NYC’s Cap on Delivery App Fees to Continue Until After Indoor Dining Returns

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The New York City Council extended its cap on the amount of fees apps like Grubhub and Uber Eats can charge restaurants in New York City until indoor dining returns which Mayor Bill de Blasio hinted might not happen until next year.

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The council voted to continue the 20 percent limit that third-party apps can charge restaurants until 90 days after indoor dining resumes in the city.

Before the pandemic, fees for restaurants from third-party apps could climb as high as 30 percent per order. In May, the council passed a bill limiting the fees during state-ordered emergencies to 15 percent per order for providing delivery service to eateries and no more than 5 percent per order for any other charges, which de Blasio later signed into law.

Restaurants have been struggling to survive during the pandemic, which forced eateries to switch to take-out or delivery models since mid-March. The majority have been unable to pay their full rent and thousands are expected to close. 

Indoor dining was originally scheduled to return in July as the city and state began slowly lifting the emergency restrictions, but New York indefinitely postponed its return on July 6 as cases of COVID-19 spiked around the country.

The city and state have remained mum on exactly when indoor dining would return, with de Blasio saying last week it might not come back until next year. This despite a group of restaurant owners and the New York City Hospitality Alliance last week calling on the local government to quickly develop a plan to bring back indoor dining, with the trade group considering a lawsuit to force its return.

“We’re not asking to open tomorrow, we’re simply asking for the simplest thing: a plan,” Tren’ness Woods-Black, owner of legendary Harlem eatery Sylvia’s, said during a press conference last week. “Some input, some direction, some light at the end of the tunnel.”

Later that week, a group of 100 restaurant owners in Staten Island and Brooklyn announced plans to file a class-action lawsuit that would force the city to bring back indoor dining, The New York Post reported.

Aside from voting to extend the cap on third-party fees, the City Council also approved bills that would continue lease-related assistance for small businesses and one that would require the Department of Small Business Services to report which businesses received grants or loans through the New York City Employee Retention Program and the New York City Small Business Continuity Loan Fund.