Uber Eats pares its menu and removes thousands of virtual brands

Customer at a restaurant picks up his Uber Eats order
Uber Eats is paring thousands of virtual brands from its menu.
Uber Eats

Uber Eats may seem to have a few less options next time you order.

The company has pruned thousands of online-only brands from its app, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The culling, though, won’t impact people’s food choices, as the restaurants that were removed were alternate versions of existing ones that offered the same menu.

The practice became popular during the pandemic, as businesses would list alternate brand names on the app, offering the same items, to help game the system and catch the eye of consumers. The number of these “virtual” brands on the Uber Eats app has exploded from 10,0000 to 40,000 since 2021.

Uber Eats will remove 5,000 of these online stores, which will reduce its North American menu by about 13%, the Journal reports. No names are being shared, but among those impacted are a New York deli that operated under 14 different names on the app and a Pakistani restaurant in San Francisco that shared its menu under 20 different names.

Some big restaurant chains have launched virtual brands on the app as well (though these are not being removed). IHOP, for example, operates Super Mega Dilla, which offers a variety of quesadillas, and Thrilled Cheese, which specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches. Neither of those is widely available on the standard IHOP menu. Another offers chicken sandwiches and tenders.

The original parent restaurants will remain on the menu. Uber Eats plans to announce new guidelines on Tuesday to prevent the practice. Multiple virtual brands will be allowed, but their menu must differ from the parent restaurant by more than half of the items.

Grubhub introduced updated guidelines to address the issue earlier this month.

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