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Hungry but too busy to go out? Food delivery options like UberEats are moving into Hall
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The Gainesville Coffee Shop does a brisk delivery business with their ChowNow app which also allows customers to place an order for pickup at a later hour. The restaurant has been using the third party food delivery service for about five years. - photo by Scott Rogers

Ordering food through a third-party delivery service isn’t just a big-city thing anymore.

Several companies are making inroads into Hall County, partnering with area restaurants to help satisfy the mealtime cravings of customers too busy or tired to make the cross-town drive to a favorite eatery.

With a few clicks on a website or mobile phone app, customers can get food rushed to home or office.

Uber Eats, once confined to metro Atlanta, is now pushing farther out, including an area stretching from Gainesville to Oakwood. GrubHub, which also operates Seamless, has food delivery in the Gainesville and South Hall areas.

Suwanee-based Choices to You expanded last year beyond Gwinnett County serving fast-growing South Hall.

“We’re planning on heading to Gainesville the first part of next year,” Choices to You owner Tom Vooris said. “Business is definitely picking up.”

One of the Grubhub’s most predominant partners in Taco Bell and that’s not just a local move for the fast-food Mexican restaurant chain.

“Taco Bell delivery is currently available in thousands of restaurants as we continue rolling it out nationwide,” a Taco Bell representative said in an email. “Through our partnership with GrubHub, we’re focusing on the convenience of delivery to ensure Taco Bell is available for any and all occasions.”

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Uber driver Hans Hammer takes Gainesville's first Uber Eats food delivery Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018 from McDonald's store manager Eric Myers at the Jesse Jewell Parkway restaurant. - photo by Scott Rogers

In October, Uber Eats announced that by the end of 2018, it would be “rolling out into new cities to cover 70 percent of the U.S. population,” a company press release states.

McDonald’s of Northeast Georgia Inc., which owns and operates local McDonald’s restaurants, joined with UberEats in Gainesville-area locations last month, launching with a test order at the restaurant at 707 Jesse Jewell Parkway, Gainesville.

Uber Eats has delivered from the McDonald’s location off Friendship Road in Buford/South Hall for more than a year, said Kimberly Dobbs Scott, vice president of operations.

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McDonald's locations in Gainesville go live on the Uber Eats app Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018, with the first food delivery order coming to the Jesse Jewell Parkway restaurant. - photo by Scott Rogers

Before launching at locations farther north, McDonald’s of Northeast Georgia held a training session at the Friendship Road store.

“It’s just another way to reach our customers,” Scott said of the service. “It’s serving the customers in a manner in which they want to be served.”

Online food ordering lines up with McDonald’s Vision 2020 plan to modernize all its restaurants, largely with technology enhancements, “giving customers what they want in the format they want,” Scott said.

The concept is called “Experience of the Future.”

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Heather Jonovich, right, and Abraham Salvador workk behind the counter Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018, at the Gainesville Coffee Shop. The restaurant gets a lot of delivery and pickup business using their third part food delivery app by ChowNow. - photo by Scott Rogers

Stacey Dickson, Lake Lanier Convention & Visitors Bureau president, said she’s been expecting the food delivery trend’s arrival in Hall.

“We’ve been tapping our toes, waiting,” she said. “It’s been slowly moving up from Atlanta. It was probably inevitable. For visitors, it’s certainly a convenience. But (the service) is more for local people, really, and our time-impoverished lives.”

Other services, DoorDash and Waitr, haven’t yet arrived.

“Follow along as we launch in new cities,” is the online message from DoorDash.

ChowNow is one service that’s existed for several years in the area, at least for Gainesville Coffee Shop in the Lawrence Pharmacy at 631 Broad St.

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Kayanne Smith carries an order to a customer's table Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018, at The Gainesville Coffee Shop on Broad Street. The restaurant has been using the third party food delivery service ChowNow for about five years. - photo by Scott Rogers

The restaurant, which has been a Gainesville staple since 1958, signed on with ChowNow five years ago. Customers can order through the restaurant’s mobile phone app or website or through ChowNow’s website.

“We built (the delivery service) from basically nothing to being two-thirds of our business,” owner Tony Jonovitch said.

Until recently, he had just a handful of competitors for third-party delivery.

“Now, some of the big dogs are getting (involved),” he said.

Several companies charge a delivery fee, ranging from $2.99 to $4.99. 

On ChowNow, delivery charges are left to the discretion of restaurants, which otherwise pay fees to ChowNow.

“Restaurants are our clients. We’re going to prioritize them,” said Christopher Webb. “For us, it’s about being behind the scenes. … We want to strengthen the relationship between (restaurants) and their customers.”