Restaurants and Domain Names
There is so much going on with restaurants during this pandemic. Most restaurants have had to switch to take out and delivery.
A lot of restaurants use companies like GrubHub and DoorDash to facilitate these deliveries. All I ever read is that these restaurants feel like they are getting squeezed by the commissions charged by these companies.
I believe there is a business model for people to start up their own local business that does not deal nationally and focuses on the local. Many restaurants will come out of this pandemic looking for other options like doing it all themselves as they just don’t like the arrangement.
The Domain Name part of the story
While not searching for domain content, I came across an interesting article from last Summer. It discussed commissions and how some merchants are not happy with the whole arrangement.
All of a sudden the topic of domain names came up, I did not know this at all, but it seems GrubHub registers a ton of domain names. Is it a help or a hindrance?
Is it allowed or do the restaurants oppose it?
TheCounter.org covered the story:
The Counter has found that GrubHub has registered more than 23,000 web domains. Its subsidiary, Seamless, has registered thousands. We’ve published the full list here. (Some of these registrations may have since expired.) Most of them appear to correlate with the names of real restaurants.
One restaurant believes GrubHub purchased her restaurant’s web domain to prevent her from building her own online presence. She also believes the company may have had a special interest in owning her name because she processes a high volume of orders.
Editor’s note: Days after this story published, the L.A. Times reported that GrubHub reserves the right to purchase domain names to set up microsites on behalf of restaurants. During our reporting, we explicitly asked GrubHub whether or not it obtained permission for this practice, and the company did not answer our question.
GrubHub made it clear to TheCounter what their position was:
“Grubhub has never cybersquatted, which is identified by ICANN as ‘generally bad faith registration of another person’s trademark in a domain name.’ As a service to our restaurants, we have created microsites for them as another source of orders and to increase their online brand presence. Additionally, we have registered domains on their behalf, consistent with our restaurant contracts. We no longer provide that service and it has always been our practice to transfer the domain to the restaurant as soon as they request it.”
The author summed up where the potential problem lies:
Here’s where things get hairy. It appears that some of GrubHub’s shadow pages are competing directly with restaurants’ real websites. Take, for instance, Molly Hatchet’s Sub Shop in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The real Molly Hatchet’s can be found at www.mollyhatchetssubshop.com. GrubHub’s page, purchased in December of 2018, is available at www.mollyhatchetssubshopdaytonabeach.com.
The real Molly Hatchet’s has its own online ordering system that has nothing to do with GrubHub. The GrubHub shadow page for the shop displays a different phone number (because commission) and links only to GrubHub.Read the full story at TheCounter.org
Now when doing a whois search for GrubHub on DomainIQ you do not find many domains associated with GrubHub.com, but after finding the whois on a restaurant I found another email address that shows the related domains count at over 8,000. I would imagine a fair number are expired, but they did pay registrations for a number of years.
Anyway it’s an interesting study how companies use a large portfolio of domain names to help their business and why owning your own domain name is one of the most important things you can do when you open your doors.