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Business/Economy

UberEats considering food delivery service in Anchorage

Ride-hailing company Uber, which started service in Alaska this summer, is now looking to launch its food delivery business in Anchorage.

UberEats is a spin-off of the company's core incarnation as a taxi-like service that allows passengers to instantly order up rides through an online app. Customers order from a selection of local restaurant menus posted on the website. Uber drivers, who use their own cars, pick up and deliver the food.

Owners of several Anchorage restaurants and food trucks said UberEats representatives have approached them about joining its roster.

Robert Kilby, owner of food truck Bear Mace Bites, said he signed up for the service to market and deliver his spicy dishes. UberEats will also handle any customer complaints. In exchange, Kilby will pay UberEats about a third of the price of each sale.

Kilby acknowledged that the percentage he will pay UberEats is high, but worth it. He had been delivering to Bear Mace customers but stopped after opening a restaurant, 907 Alehouse, which won't be on UberEats.

"We're excited to get back into delivery," Kilby said. "Hauling that truck around in the winter is hard."

Marci Belew, restaurant coordinator and bookkeeper at downtown Mexican eatery Tequila 61, said owners and management are still debating whether to sign up.

Belew said she's been doing a substantial amount of research since an Uber rep first approached the restaurant about a month ago.

Some of the reviews she has read about the service from cities in the Lower 48 give her pause. And the percentage cut restaurants fork over to UberEats seems high. At the same time, she sees value in the online platform and its enormous marketing prowess.

"We are an upscale Mexican restaurant and don't want our food to get a bad name," she said. "That's what we're concerned about it."

Competitors are also aware of the company's interest in Anchorage. Skyler Lovelace, owner of local food delivery service On the Menu, is anticipating a hit as customers sample the new service, but expects to survive competition from a business operating in dozens of cities across six continents.

"We are bracing for the initial impact of them coming into the market and disrupting it for a while, but customers are looking for quality restaurants and quality service in the end and we're not too worried about it," he said.

UberEats has not publicly committed to coming to Anchorage and would not name a launch date.

"We're certainly interested in launching in Alaska and exploring the possibility of launching in Anchorage," said Uber spokesman Nathan Hambley in Seattle. "As far as a timeline goes, there's nothing definite currently."

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