The Future. Uber Eats is purging its app of thousands of virtual storefronts, citing that the inflation of same-menu, different-name brands is clogging the app and hurting customer trust. While many restaurants opened up virtual brands to test out new styles or just keep the kitchen busy during typical slow hours, the culling may improve the quality of the app’s offerings and speed up how long it takes for a customer to find something to eat.
Uber Eats doesn’t want to be The Cheesecake Factory menu of dining options.
- The company announced that it’s removing about 5,000 online storefronts — 13% of virtual brands in North America.
- That includes an NYC deli with 14 brands serving the same sandwiches and a San Francisco-based Pakistani restaurant that duplicated its menu across 20 brands.
- It’s also introducing new rules: more than half of a virtual brand’s menu needs to be different from the parent brand’s menu — and needs the photos to back it up.
Currently, Uber Eats hosts more than 40,000 virtual restaurants — 8% of the listings in the US and Canada. There were only 10,000 in 2021.
Tastes like SEO
For many restaurants, the “Wild West, anything goes kind of situation” (Uber Eats Head of Dark Kitchens John Mullenholz’s words) of virtual restaurants gave brands the ability to experiment to see what works with customers.
Matt Newberg, the founder of food publication HNGRY, said that “an Indian restaurant with a menu ranging from tandoori chicken to dosas might create multiple brands with the same menu but give each a different name and lead photo.” When the restaurant figured out which brand got the most hits and with which photo, it could pour its energy into that one.