KU to replace 40 cashiers with Grubhub delivery app

A customer pays for food at The Market in the Kansas Memorial Union. The Market operated at one cashier on June 28, 2022. 

Following a decline in student employment, the University of Kansas Dining Services expanded its partnership with Grubhub. Students will be able to place pick-up orders using the Grubhub mobile app at all dining locations on campus starting in July. 

Grubhub, a Chicago-based food delivery service, has been operating on campus at some locations, including Chick-fil-A, Dining Director Jim Schilling said. 

The app will replace cashiers, allowing KU to redirect around 40 Dining employees toward cleaning and preparing food orders, Schilling said. Dining lost 60% of its employees during the pandemic, he said. 

“We have had significant labor challenges just like every other food and beverage operator has,” Schilling said. “We just don’t have as many people working for us anymore.”

Alex Taylor, a KU Dining student supervisor, said the decline in employee numbers put him under pressure. 

“It sucked,” Taylor said. “We have had to pick up a lot of the slack.” 

Madison Snethen, a KU senior who has been working in Dining since August 2019, said the Grubhub transaction system replaced the old system this summer, which had been going down constantly. 

“With any new system, it’s going to be our burden to bear as staff to work out the bugs,” Snethen said. “It’ll be better in the long run, especially compared to our old system.”

Grubhub pick-up orders already launched in The Market at the Kansas Memorial Union, Taylor said. 

Using the new Grubhub system “has been a struggle,” Taylor said. “There’s been a lot of Wi-Fi issues.”

In April 2020, the unemployment rate in the restaurant industry rose to 35.4%, the highest rate recorded by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics since 2000. It dropped to about 10% in April 2021 and went down again to 5% in April 2022.

The unemployment rate in the restaurant industry, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.

How Grubhub works at KU

Grubhub charges two fees for orders: a service fee and a delivery fee. 

All KU students are offered a free Grubhub+ membership, which exempts users from delivery fees for orders that exceed $12, according to the Grubhub app. However, Grubhub still charges a 10% service fee on delivery orders. 

Ordering a delivery on Grubhub “doesn’t cost as much as if you were using another app,” Schilling said. “That way, the money that you’re spending is still going pretty much to the food and beverage part of things.”

Students can use their dining dollars to order from off-campus locations using Grubhub, according to KU Dining

When a student buys the Crimson Flex or the Blue Flex dining plans, 500 dining dollars go into the Grubhub app, according to KU Dining. Students have until the end of the academic year before their dining dollars expire.

Following the expansion of the University of Kansas-Grubhub partnership, the new Grubhub pick-up sign is displayed at The Market in the Kansas Memorial Union on June 28, 2022. Students can now order their meals using the Grubhub mobile app. 

What Grubhub gets 

Grubhub benefits from partnering with KU by increasing its consumer pool and building brand awareness among young adults, Schilling said. 

“If you get a group of folks used to using your product, or consuming your product, at that point in time as they transition out of college, they’re more likely to continue,” Schilling said.

In a survey, around 30% of Generation Z respondents said digital-only deals would encourage them to order a restaurant take-out or delivery, according to Mintel.

Gurbhub partnered with 250 other universities in the U.S. to deliver food for students on and off-campus, according to Grubhub’s website

Grubhub’s major expansion at college campuses comes as American consumers lean toward quick-service restaurants, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture

In the U.S., the monthly average dollars spent in quick-service restaurants increased from about $23 billion to about $25 billion between the end of 2020 and April 2021, according to the report.

On the other hand, the average total dollars spent in full-service restaurants decreased from around $14 billion to about $11 billion during the same period, according to the report.   

What KU gets

KU receives a share of every service fee that Grubhub charges to KU students, Schilling said. 

Schilling declined to reveal the percentage of KU’s share due to a non-disclosure agreement.

Additionally, KU provides students with a larger variety of options to use their dining dollars, Schilling said. 

“That’s obviously very popular with the students as it expanded their ability to use their dining plans to off-campus locations,” Schilling said. 

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