Capping Food Delivery Fees On The Table Again For Cincinnati Council

Sep 21, 2020

Cincinnati City Council is expected to vote Wednesday to reinstate a cap on food delivery fees in the city.

Council's Budget and Finance Committee approved the measure Monday after a public hearing.

The ordinance was first passed in May, but it expired last month.  If council approves, the new cap would be in place for 120 days.

It places "a cap on the fee that third parties can charge to restaurants located in the city of Cincinnati for delivering food, which cap shall be no more than 15% of the total food cost charged by the restaurant to the customer."

Cities across the country took similar actions after restaurants were forced to close their dining rooms because of the coronavirus, and instead focus on carry out and delivery to keep their businesses operating. 

Before the ordinance, some third-party delivery firms were charging delivery fees up to 30% or more of the total food cost charged to customers.  Restaurants owners said that threatened their ability to stay in business.

Several restaurant representatives, at the request of Council Member P.G. Sittenfeld who sponsored the initial legislation, sent emails to support the continued cap on food delivery fees.

  • "Based on our restaurant's experience we've saved approximately $6,000 during the time the legislation has been in place. On an annual basis this equates to over $32,000 in savings and 1.75 jobs retained." Norma Kerns, B&A Street Kitchen
  • "As a result of the delivery fee ordinance, my restaurant in Cincinnati was able to stay afloat and was able to save four jobs. This kept approximately $3,000 in store per month. This was the difference between us being able to pay bills or not." Sally Kilbacak, Poke Hut
  • "It's been a big help for the restaurant industry overall and I hope that City Council will support an extension of this program, especially as winter approaches. We will soon be losing a lot of our patio tables and many customers are still reluctant to eat inside and they will switch to delivery which is a lot more costly than dine-in customer." Jean-Francois Flechet, Taste of Belgium
  • "As the cold weather moves in and outdoor dining fades away restaurants still face limited seating capacity and a population that in part still has concerns about dining out. Third-party delivery fees being held at 15% make this a viable business opportunity for restaurants. We will need it this winter even more so than over the summer." Joe Lanni, The Thunderdome Group
  • "It's imperative that we retain the cap especially during these crazy times. Most restaurants are barely scraping by as it is and with winter and the grim first quarter fast approaching we all need any help we can get to keep our doors open. Delivery is now pertinent part of survival unfortunately." Carla Chalkley, Aladdin's Eatery

Restaurants who feel that third-party provides like Uber Eats and DoorDoor are not following the city ordinance must file a civil court action to enforce the measure.  The city itself does not have an enforcement mechanism.