Logo for the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce campaign to support local restaurants. / Graphic, Miggs Burroughs

WESTPORT — Restaurants are being slammed as another wave of COVID-19 cuts their customer base, serves up staffing and supply shortages, and eats into profit margins.

Take-out food orders and deliveries have been a lifeline for Westport restaurants and countless others across the nation as the pandemic, in its many variants, marches into a third year.

But for many restaurateurs the dominant food-delivery apps, such as DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub, are problematic.

The app delivery services “charge as much as a 30 percent fee to the restaurant for delivery and an unbelievable 25 percent for an order that is picked up by the customer themselves,” according to a statement by Matthew Mandell, executive director of the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce.

“Clearly, use of third-party apps is easy, but the cost to our local economy is huge,” Mandell said.

The chamber’s statement quotes Bob O’Mahoney, co-owner of Viva Zapata in Westport, as saying third-party delivery fees consume “our profit margin.”  

To counter that loss, the Chamber of Commerce is launching a campaign — “Order Direct / Pick It Up” — to urge Westport patrons “to either call up or use a restaurant’s own website or app to make a take-out order either online or by phone, and then pick it up.”

Bypassing the third-party delivery apps, he said, “will put these excessive fees back into the pocket of our local friends and businesspeople.”

The Chamber of Commerce urges Westporters when placing take-out orders with restaurants or food businesses to use their websites or phone, and then pick up the order whenever possible.