YK Eats, a Yellowknife food delivery service, is not yet operational despite an app that allows users to place orders and it processes payments.
Shivam Dhamija, YK Eats founder, said the app is only available “to show the functionality” of the interface and that the new company hasn’t had any restaurants in town sign on for the service.
Dhamija said his start-up business has been issuing six or seven refunds each week for over a month to Yellowknifers who have used the app to place delivery orders.
Currently, the Monkey Tree Pub and Copperhouse Eatery are the only two listed on the app, though neither have given Dhamija the OK to begin deliveries.
Jennifer Vornbrock, co-owner of the Monkey Tree, was unaware that customers could already place orders through the app, but said the pub plans to work with YK Eats as it’s prepared to roll out in the coming weeks.
She said the Monkey Tree has been supportive of the delivery business since it approached her months ago, but that the initial collaboration will be on a trial basis to ensure quality isn’t being compromised.
“We’ve done delivery before and a lot can go wrong so if I’m partnering with them I want to make sure the level of service customers can expect is the same as if they were dining in or picking up,” Vornbrock said. “Because it’s our name, you’re trusting someone to make sure the food is delivered hot and in a timely manner because, at the end of the day, that doesn’t fall back on them, that reflects on us.”
Copperhouse co-owner Mark Henry said his restaurant has had discussions with YK Eats, but that he’s still unsure whether a partnership will be formed.
Dhamija has been working on the app for almost a year. He said the company has secured drivers, established its technology and “has everything ready to go,” save for the green light from Yellowknife eateries.
Part of the reason restaurants owners are so hesitant, Dhamija said, is because of the way events unfolded when California-based competitor DoorDash tried to enter the Yellowknife market in the fall.
At the time, DoorDash appeared to have landed in Yellowknife with a number of local eateries listed on its app, though none of the Yellowknife establishments had consented to using the service.
Restaurant owners asserted then that a DoorDash partnership would cut heavily into the industry’s already thin profit margins.
“We’re certainly not interested in partnering with a company like DoorDash that focuses on stealing profits, “ Vornbrock said, noting that, as a local company, YK Eats understands the market and is looking at a more modest profit with its delivery charge for consumers. Something people in Yellowknife “are used to anyways,” Vornbrock said.
Dhamija said DoorDash’s commission is twice that of YK Eats. He said he’s not looking to have local restaurants foot the bill with his service.
Within the next few weeks, Dhamija said he hopes the service will be fully operational, with proper deliveries and partnerships. When YK Eats officially launches, he plans to make an announcement on the Bite Me Yellowknife Facebook page.
Once launched, Dhamija said he hopes more Yellowknife restaurants will recognize the potential in a collaboration and will agree to join the delivery service as well.