The Marin County Board of Supervisors quickly approved a resolution this week that caps the fees charged by restaurant delivery apps like Doordash and Grubhub, which just reached a deal to be bought by European food delivery service Just Eat Takeaway for $7.3 billion, at 15 percent of the purchase price of the order.

The resolution, which we previewed last week, acknowledges that the shelter in place order that went into effect March 17 “placed a sudden and severe financial strain on many restaurants, particularly those that are small businesses that already operate on thin margins, adding to financial pressures in the industry that predate the COVID-19 crisis.”

It also notes that “restaurants, and particularly restaurants that are small businesses with few locations, have limited bargaining power to negotiate lower fees with third-party platforms, given the high market saturation of third-party platforms, and the dire financial straits small business restaurants are facing in this COVID-19 emergency.”

The resolution takes effect June 22, only impacts restaurants in unincorporated Marin like Strawberry and Tam Valley. So the Mill Valley City Council would need to approve it to impact restaurant deliveries within city limits.

The regulation would remain in place until the county lifts the order prohibiting indoor dining, which is expected to come as soon as June 29, AND the board rescinds it.

But the resolution holds out the possibility that it stays on the books for a while: “Even when dine-in service is allowed by the Public Health Officer in the future, it is unclear how rapidly dine-in service will begin to resume and restaurants may continue to see a significant loss of revenue for an ongoing period of time as dine-in service is reintroduced.”

“This initiative is a small way of continuing to offer protection to small businesses in unprecedented times,” Supervisor Damon Connolly said. “We look forward to a fuller reopening in a safe way going forward.”

The regulation would not apply to delivery services delivering orders from chain/formula restaurants with 11 or more locations and/or standardized array of merchandise, a standardized facade, a standardized decor and color scheme, uniform apparel and standardized signage.

“People have migrated to these services and a large portion of our business is now done via home delivery,” Rustic Bakery Founder Carol Levalley wrote to the board in seeking the regulation. “We have no choice to participate in these services or we’d see our already diminished business shrink even more.”


Want to know what’s happening around town? Click here to subscribe to the Enjoy Mill Valley Blog by Email!