A Chicago hot dog from Lefty's, with pepperoncini, cucumber, relish, tomatoes, mustard, and celery salt, on a poppy seed bun
Delivery apps are great, but they also suck. Great because they deliver virtually every restaurant to your doorstep — an especially handy service during a shutdown. Terrible because they charge money coming and going: customers pay exorbitant delivery fees, while restaurants are forced to pay exorbitant commissions. Terrible because, despite this, their drivers are underpaid.
So, great because restaurants get extra business, couch potatoes get fed, and independent contractors get work, but at the end of the day, nobody actually feels good about it, except the app’s shareholders. So not great at all.
The not-quite-working-perfectly website for the TakeIn delivery app
Except for one app, maybe. TakeIn, otherwise known as TakeIn.com, promises only to take its delivery fee. Restaurants on the platform get full price for their food. Drivers get their full tips. And customers get to order food to our doorsteps without the frustration and guilt of knowing we paid more, only for the restaurant to make less.
It sounds amazing. It almost sounds too good to be true. And when I first heard about it last spring, that seemed to be the case. I tried, repeatedly, to order food using the app, only to run into glitches, poor navigation, and the inability to complete an order. I pegged it as a failing effort.
Except TakeIn stuck around, started working better, and started adding a wider range of restaurants. Last week, I was able to order from neighborhood favorites including Lefty’s Chicago Pizza and Mama's Bakery & Deli. I paid full price for the food, plus tax and tip. But I only paid six bucks each for the actual delivery.
A beef shawarma plate from Mama's Bakery & Deli
Okay, six bucks will sound like too much for many of us, but it’s a relatively fair rate considering the usual suspect apps — whether DoorDash, GrubHub, UberEats, or Postmates — typically charge closer to ten bucks by plying a murky combination of taxes, delivery fees, and service fees. And before tips.
Basically, TakeIn offers more appealing terms to independently owned restaurants, and doesn’t rip off consumers in the process. So what’s not to love?
Square cut, thin crust pizza with pepperoni and Italian beef toppings
So while I was able to find and order from Lefty’s the first time, my order wound up failing due to some back-end error. Then, when I was sent back to the home page, I could no longer find Lefty’s as an option. Eventually, after a lot of failed searches clicking around, I found the restaurant’s menu again and placed a successful order. Within a half hour, I was eating a Chicago hot dog, alongside thin crust pizza topped by pepperoni and Italian beef.
This was a thrilling development, because Lefty’s delivery was never available, for years, and I’d much rather order from a place that doesn’t rip off the family-owned business. Ultimately, that point keeps me interested in TakeIn — it may not be as slick as the big boys in the game, but in a sense that only proves it’s not ripping off its clients to pay for a more seamless shopping experience. By a year from now, it could very well become the best delivery option in town.