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'The more protection of the food, the better it is': Macon restaurants welcome food delivery bill

If Senate Bill 34 passes, it would regulate familiar food delivery services like DoorDash, GrubHub, and Uber Eats.

MACON, Ga. — Since the pandemic, a lot more people are using food-delivery apps. However, the food doesn't always make it to your home.

That's why the Georgia Senate is working on Bill 34 that prohibits delivery services from some unsavory practices.

If it passes, it would regulate familiar food delivery services like DoorDash, GrubHub, and Uber Eats.

One restaurant owner, Charlotte Ethridge, says it’s about time. 

"The more protection of the food, the better it is,” she says. 

Ethridge has owned Harp and Bowl La Bistro for six years. She says they began to use third-party delivery services because of the pandemic. 

“It was good to have somebody to come in and pick up,” she said.

She says some of her experiences with third-party food delivery services have been good, some bad.

"I've had customers calling about not getting their food on time, or once it got there it was cold, or if we sent something cold, it had melted,” she explains. 

Ethridge says she's even refused to work with a driver because they smelled of alcohol. She says customers deserve a higher standard of service. 

"They pay an extra price for that, and so they should have the food on time and it should be temperature controlled.”

Senate Bill 34 would tackle some of that.  

It prohibits third-party services from using unfair, unsafe, and unsanitary practices. Part of the bill would require food to be closed and sealed in a temperature-controlled container. 

Other parts prohibit services from falsely claiming they work with particular restaurants. It requires drivers to have clean vehicles, prohibits smoking or vaping there, and says pets aren't allowed, unless it's a service animal. 

"We live in a time today where we need to have rules and regulations,” says Andrea Dominick. 

Dominick DoorDashes on and off, but says the regulations would be good for the service industry because it's easy to scam a business now. 

"We actually had a girl come in, she picked up the order. She hit confirm in front of us, so we knew she confirmed it.”

Then she canceled the order once outside the restaurant, taking the customer's food with her. 

"You've got people who do bad things, and it's sad, but we live in that time now,” Dominick says. 

TJ Jones has been manager of Bearfoot Tavern since last September. He says he used to use third-party delivery services before he was hired, but he had similar issues to Ethridge where food did not make it to the customer. 

Jones says the bill sounds good in theory. 

"From a consumer standpoint, it's safer. There's more of a guarantee that it's going to be sanitary, it's going to be exactly what you ordered, it'll be warm when it arrives,” Jones says. “From a businessman standpoint, there is some concern on the availability of who’s going to be able to be driving. How are they maintaining their cars, how are they verifying their cars are clean? Logistically, how are they actually going to make that happen?” 

Dominick says they already have standards for DoorDash drivers, like having a clean car or having a DoorDash sticker that seals the bag of food being delivered. 

Five Georgia senators cosponsored the bill. It's currently being reviewed by a Senate committee.


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