For as long as I can remember, whenever anyone ordered food delivered to our home, it was the usual fare of pizzas, hoagies, salads, wings or cheesesteaks — and maybe some Chinese food here and there — from a nearby restaurant that featured delivery. You took your chances on how long the delivery would take, and you needed to have cash on-hand to pay and tip the driver.

Last winter, on one of those snowy, stay-at-home nights, I overheard my daughter and friends, all millennials, discussing what food that they planned on ordering. One was in the mood for Thai food, one was craving Indian cuisine and another wanted to go south of the border with some fish tacos. I remember shaking my head, laughing to myself, thinking, “Good luck with that!”

I wasn’t really paying much attention to their international food dreaming banter, until knocks starting coming to the front door. In less than 40 minutes, to my complete surprise, they were sitting around my dining room table feasting on a variety of ethnic foods while snow continued to fall outside the windows.

This is the night that I had my first eye-opening experience with the new (to me) world of UberEats. In response to my curious questioning, my daughter and her friends showed me that they all had an UberEats app on their mobile phones. When they signed up for the app, they attached their credit card so that no cash is ever needed or exchanged to order food. When they get ready to order food, through their UberEATS app, they simply scroll through the area restaurants listed until something strikes their fancy. They then tap the chosen restaurant, peruse the menu and place their food choices in a cart. When you’re ready to check out, they showed me, you’ll see your address, an estimated delivery time and the price of the order, including tax and booking fee, which is minimal. When everything looks right, they just tap “place order” and that’s it — job done. If you don’t want to use your phone to do all this, you can also access UberEATS at UberEATS.com on any computer.

Do you remember wondering when the pizza guy was ever going to get there? With UberEATS, they explained, you can track the whole process with your app. First, you’ll see the restaurant accept and start prepping. Then, when the order is almost ready, a nearby Uber driver will go to the restaurant and pick up your food and drive it to you and you’ll be able to see the driver’s name and photo and track their progress on the map. Ahhh, the age of the Jetsons has really arrived.

Being a product of years past, I was fascinated with the whole process, but admittedly, I was still hesitant to use it. Heck, I had only used Uber as transportation for the very first time in little over a year ago, so at my age, I am entitled to take baby steps. So last week, when I was contacted by McDonald’s with the news of their new partnership with UberEATS and invited to stop by a local McDonald’s to see the whole UberEATS program in action from start to finish, I excitedly took advantage of the opportunity. After all, I realize the whole new world of UberEATS and other services like it are exploding on the stay-at-home dining scene. I wanted to be in the know for those days when I really don’t feel like cooking myself and home delivery would be a very nice, very tempting option.

The good folks at McDonald’s set me up to meet with Tony Micale, the very nice owner of six area McDonald’s restaurants. We met at the Eddystone McDonald’s location on Chester Pike. Tony is thrilled with the restaurant’s recent partnership with UberEATS and says he has already seen a 3 to 4 percent increase in business since June when the partnership launched.

“Our partnership with UberEATS is a win-win for customers and for us,” Tony explained. “UberEATS is a phenomenal system. I have to give McDonald’s credit for seeing the value of a partnership with Uber. They were right on with this one! This partnership increases our sales without increasing our labor force or our overhead.”

Tony said using UberEATS to order food from McDonald’s is convenient, simple, fast and economical. All 97 McDonald’s restaurants in the Philadelphia area are participating, he said. Customers place their McDonald’s orders on the UberEATS mobile app or through UberEATS.com website, using the exact account that they use to take Uber vehicle rides.

UberEATS gave each McDonald’s restaurant an iPad, which is mounted right on the counter.

Tony demonstrated how the whole process works. As soon as a customer places an order, it comes on to the iPad and alerts the Uber driver closest to the restaurant location. Staff at the store hear the iPad ring like a phone, immediately go over to read what was ordered and begin filling the order.

The Uber driver who is within the closest proximity to the restaurant stops by McDonald’s to pick it up. If the drive-thru line is empty, Micale said, the driver doesn’t even have to get out of his vehicle but can just cruise through the drive-thru lane for the easy pickup. McDonald’s staff hands the food order placed in a specially marked Uber bag to the driver, who then places the bag inside a thermal “Uber” bag to keep the food hot. He immediately whisks it off to the customer who receives it hot, fresh and quickly. Customers are welcome to tip the Uber driver, but all food has been charged to the credit card attached to the app, so no money is exchanged between driver and customer. Uber drivers never carry money.

Micale said that an average order is for about $11 worth of food, but orders run all over the map when it comes to size and preference. One customer recently ordered 100 Chicken McNuggets for an event.

“We’re really popular with business people who want us to deliver to their desks so that they can keep working or don’t have to leave the office,” Tony stated.

In fact, people can now order UberEATS in advance by setting delivery to lunchtime tomorrow or party time next Friday, and the food will be delivered when and where it’s requested. People can also designate if they want it delivered to their desk, the front office, curbside or note any other specification.

Micale can see business is already skyrocketing from Widener students going back on campus two weeks ago, since the Eddystone restaurant is the closest one to the University. The location is already getting 30 to 40 UberEATS orders per day from Widener staff and students.

“We’re open 24 hours a day, so if students are up studying or they don’t have transportation to leave campus and they want a burger and fries, this is an easy option,” Tony said.

There is no particular time of day when UberEATS has the most calls in to his restaurants, Tony said. Rather, the orders come in day and night. When the program first started at McDonald’s in June, the Eddystone restaurant had about a dozen or so orders each day, but that has increased as more and more people discover this convenient ordering option. Through UberEATS, customers are able to get any item that’s on McDonald’s in-store menu, with the exception of soft-serve ice cream. Although no coupons are accepted ordering through UberEats, customers pay the same prices for the food as if they were there at the restaurant. A small $5 surcharge is added for the convenience of the Uber delivery service.

In the Philadelphia area’s 97 restaurants, in June alone after the partnership with UberEATS launched, the McDelivery service delivered over 15,000 McNuggets and over 500 Big Macs to places as unique as the Rocky Steps of the Art Museum. June statistics also showed that the largest single cart order was an 80-item order of 20 bacon, egg and cheese biscuit meals, 20 cookies, 20 fruit ’n yogurt parfaits and 20 McCafe coffees.

Although Micale said his restaurants receive orders consistently throughout the day, the Philadelphia area McDonald’s restaurants found their UberEATS orders peak between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. The McDelivery program is available across the U.S. at more than 2,000 McDonald’s and is expected to be in about 4,000 nationwide by the end of this summer, which means you can order McDonald’s food in this manner just about anywhere you may travel.

Micale said he foresees the UberEATS option at McDonald’s growing rapidly once more people know they have the option to get one of their favorite McMeals in just minutes with minimal effort on their part. Right now, people are already discovering it incidentally on their UberEats app or they’re seeing the signs promoting the program in-store or in the drive-thru lane. In a few weeks, McDonald’s will launch an $800,000 ad campaign to get the word about the new partnership out to the public, Micale said. He is ready for the boost in business that the ads will bring and receives a daily report each day with the UberEATS sales numbers.

“Our customers are telling us over and over how convenient it is to use UberEATS and get their favorite McDonald’s menu items delivered quickly to their doorsteps,” Micale said with a satisfied grin. “This is just another service that we are offering our customers. People are really busy these days, and they’re all about convenience. UberEATS is a relevant platform that people are using today to get their favorite foods. We’re proud and happy to be able to have those foods delivered fresh, hot and quickly.”

I came home from my visit with Tony at McDonald’s and excitedly told my millennial daughter that night about McDonald’s new partnership with UberEats, as if I was ahead of the curve with my new found McKnowledge.

“Oh yeah, I noticed McDonald’s was on there,” she said in response, sounding like she’d expect nothing less than that they would be on there. I just felt like I needed to let her know, in case next time, she and her dining partners wanted Thai, Indian, Mexican and a few McMuffins or Big Macs, too. The world is all about options these days.

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