Food for thought?
Deliveroo riders are now a familiar site around the streets of our towns and in our restaurants, and this revolution in food delivery has helped restaurants who did not previously have a delivery offering tap in to a new market. But are there other issues that tenants and landlords need to consider before embracing this brave new world?
For planning purposes, Use Class A3 (the use class for a restaurants and cafés), permits the sale of food and drink for consumption on the premises. In England, Use Class A5 permits the sale of hot food for consumption off the premises (in Wales this also falls under Use Class A3). A restaurant which starts up a takeaway/delivery element to their business can in most cases show that this part of the business is ancillary to the main restaurant and will not require a change of use to Use Class A5. Therefore for planning purposes, providing Deliveroo for your hot food offering would probably not cause any issue.
However the user clause in the lease may not always refer to a Use Class, and could well be more restrictive than the planning position; in a recent restaurant letting we have dealt with the user clause in the lease specifically prohibits the provision of a takeaway service in order to encourage customers to use the food court in the shopping centre where the unit is located. If a tenant has a user clause that which specifically prohibits takeaways or is ambiguous on the point, to offer a Deliveroo service may mean the tenant is in breach of its lease and consequently in trouble with its landlord. In new leases, tenants should seek to have this kind of service specifically catered for in the user clause to avoid any ambiguity.
A more practical issue is what to do with all the waiting delivery riders. Having a lot of people milling around waiting for orders to be prepared might impact on the dining experience of those paying customers who choose to eat in, and restaurants may need to make alterations to the premises to have a separate entrance or waiting area to get round this issue. Of course any alterations would have to be considered in the context of the lease, and may need to be formally documented and require consent of the landlord with the associated costs of doing so. But what about where the premises can’t be adapted and there isn’t space for them to wait inside? Landlords may need to consider how to manage queuing riders in the context of its obligations in relation to any common parts and to other tenants in the vicinity.
Whilst Deliveroo is a welcome innovation for the restaurant business, it will be interesting to see how its practical application affects tenants and landlords alike.