LYNN — When I caught wind of a service that promises you Chinese food, pizza, or doughnuts delivered to your door by an Uber driver 35 minutes after the press of a button, I decided it was a good afternoon to try a slice.
UberEATS, an online meal ordering and delivery platform launched by Uber Technologies, expanded to include restaurants on the North Shore Wednesday. Hungry customers can now order from District 45, Enzo’s Pizzeria, Casa Amelia, Thai Cafe, and many others in Lynn, and Kane’s Donuts, Kowloon, and Kelly’s Roast Beef in Saugus.
Customers browse menu items and place orders using the UberEATS website or app with the account they already use to order an Uber ride. They are given a total cost, which includes the food and delivery price.
The average order takes 35 minutes from start to finish, according to Cathy Zhou, general manager of the Boston-area UberEATS. Customers pay with their Uber account and can track their delivery status from start to finish.
With the touch of a button, I placed an order at 3:24 p.m. from The Item’s newsroom. Across the city, Fauci Pizza began making my 10-inch, gluten-free pizza topped with pineapple and bacon (hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it).
The app initially estimated the order would arrive before 4 p.m., but, as anyone who has driven through Wyoma Square late on a Wednesday afternoon could have predicted, the time was slowly pushed back minute by minute.
More than $18 and 50 minutes later, a cold pizza arrived on Munroe Street (Uber charges a flat fee of $4.99 for delivery and gluten-free pizza is generally more expensive than its traditional counterpart).
Chris Sunnerlin, who has worked for the company as a driver for about two years, said it was the first order he has delivered in the city. He’s made four or five food runs in Boston, where the service has already been established.
By the time I returned to my desk, I had an email with a $5 coupon for my next order to make up for the slow delivery.
Enzo’s Pizzeria was among the handful of Lynn restaurants to launch the service on Wednesday, with the first order coming in during the lunch rush. When the tablet provided by UberEATS began to ring, owner Gaetano Costa said he was a little confused, but he fulfilled his first order quickly and received an alert that the Uber driver was outside the restaurant.
“Today was the first day but I believe the (customers) who already have the app downloaded will use it,” said Costa. “It’s a good idea. It does not interfere with our drivers.”
Costa said he wondered whether the delivery times given by Uber was realistic. All food on his menu is made to order, including pasta and pizza, and could take longer to make than the expected time given to customers.
Zhou said a complex algorithm is used to determine the approximate delivery time that factors in the availability of carriers and traffic patterns during the time of day. She said the company prides itself on reliability, convenience, and offering a broad selection.
After trying the service on day one, it’s clear there are still kinks to be worked out, but I’d spend another $5 to have doughnuts delivered to my front door.