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SF-Based Restaurant Delivery Service Ticks Off Both Sides Of Immigration Debate

Also: Korean hot dogs come to Berkeley, and more news to start your day

Los Angeles Times Food Bowl Presents: Night Market
A DoorDash booth at a California market
Photo by Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images for Los Angeles Times Food Bowl

DoorDash, a San Francisco-based food delivery service, has caused a social media stir with an immigration-focused PR push.

One of the biggest hurdles delivery companies have to jump is distinguishing itself from its competition — that is, what it takes to make a customer think “oh, I’m going to order dinner from Postmates tonight instead of from Uber Eats.” That need for differentiation is what drove companies to add restaurants to their platforms without their permission, for example, and is behind various public relations efforts and promotions that most customers appear to look past. Folks aren’t looking past a new PR push from San Francsico-based DoorDash, however — but the attention the public is meting out might not be what the company hoped for.

On Monday, DoorDash announced a new program called “Executive Orders,” in which from “from Feb 24-28, we’re waiving all fees on food from areas affected by the travel ban and making a donation to immigrants’ rights causes.” The effort is an offshoot of its Kitchens Without Borders program, an effort that its website says is the company’s “initiative to support immigrant- and refugee-owned businesses.” But while a blog post from the company says that the programs are intended to support the businesses by offering “free access to small business advisors,” the company remains silent on the percentage it charges these immigrant-owned restaurants any time an order is placed through its service, a move that inspired some users of the social media platform Twitter to claim that the announcement was woke-washing, and little more.

Others derided the company’s alleged treatment of its delivery drivers, many of whom are also immigrants. For example, Tony Xu, the CEO of the $13 billion company, has been a vocal critic of laws that would require DoorDash to classify its drivers as employees, and last fall the company launched a $90 million effort to eradicate the worker-protecting legislation. (This, after an outcry over an admitted policy in which the company kept tips instead of passing them on to workers.)

Apparent supporters of current immigration policies also decried the move, with some even threatening a boycott.

While DoorDash didn’t appear to respond to most of the tweets on fees charged to restaurants (which are indeed significant) or the plight of its drivers, it did respond to critics of its supposed support of immigration with a light — some might say, glib — tone.

And in other news...

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited San Francisco’s Chinatown Monday, stopping by cooking supply store The Wok Shop and the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. Her visit was intended to quell fears of the new coronavirus, which have had a devastating impact on business at the area’s bars, restaurants, and stores. [NBC Bay Area]
  • Berkeley just got its first Korean-style corn dog restaurant, a spot on Hearst Avenue near UC Berkeley’s North Gate called Seoul Hotdog. Expect unusual batters like one with squid ink, and toppings that include mozzarella and rice cakes. [Daily Californian]
  • The Englander, a popular San Leandro pub and sports bar, is closing this week after 25 years in business. Its landlord refused to renew its lease, its owners say, and the spot will close for good on Friday. [East Bay Times]
  • Daly City grocery store Greek Imports has provided shoppers with hard-to-find foods from( of course) Greece since 1992. Now under new ownership, the emporium at 6524 Mission Street has ben renamed Halal International and Greek Market, and offers a new (and, reportedly, unparallelled) selection of Middle Eastern sodas, spices, and grab-and-go options. [SF Gate]
  • An alleged thief was caught on tape raiding the registers at San Francisco restaurants Urban Bowls and Xanath Ice Cream, walking past customers to reach into the drawer and steal the dough. [ABC 7]
  • Indian-Pakistani fast-casual mini-chain Zareen’s is opening a third location in Redwood City. [East Bay Times]
  • Chef Jonathan De La Torre, an Oakland native who’s served in the kitchens of Nopa, Commis, and Quince, is increasing the frequency of his Berkeley-based North Africa-meets-CA Serene pop-up next month. [Berkeleyside]
  • Son & Garden, a bar and restaurant from Farmhouse Kitchen Thai’s Kasem Saengsawang, is now open at 700 Polk Street, but its “official” opening isn’t until March 12. [Hoodline]


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