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Olszewski Puts Cap on Food Delivery Services Fees

Sean Naron, Baltimore County

Baltimore County is capping how much third-party delivery services can charge restaurants to deliver their food.

County Executive Johnny Olszewski Tuesday signed an executive order capping the amount the delivery services can charge restaurants at 15% per order.

“Delivery service has been a critical component in helping our restaurants survive this year,” Olszewski said at a news conference in Towson. “But often, when you order from a local restaurant through a third-party delivery app, the restaurant can be charged as much as 30% or more from every order. That’s 30% lost to our local businesses from every purchase.”

Olszewski said the cap will ensure that more money people spend for delivered food will end up in the pockets of restaurant owners and their staff.

“It’s our hope that this action will provide a little bit of support to a sector of our economy that has been battered and bruised by this pandemic,” Olszewski said.

Olszewski’s executive order to cap the fees differs from action being taken in Baltimore City to achieve the same thing. The city council is expected to take up legislation to cap what delivery services like DoorDash and Grubhub can charge in January. Olszewski’s order will take effect immediately.

An Olszewski spokesman said the county attorney has signed off on the legality of the executive order. It wil remain in effect as long as there is a state of emergency.

In a WYPR story December 17 about the city legislation, Michele Blackwell, a spokeswoman for Uber, said the company helps drive demand for independent local restaurants.

“Regulating the commissions that fund our marketplace forces us to radically alter the way we do business and ultimately hurt those that we’re trying to help the most: customers, small businesses and delivery people,” she said.

Olszewski also stressed that people need to remain vigilant in protecting themselves and others from COVID-19 during the holidays.

“We need to send holiday greetings from afar, rather than in person,” Olszewski said. “We need to keep limits to our own households. We need to do whatever we can to keep our loved ones safe so that we can come back together next year.”

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2