GrubHub vs. Seamless vs. DoorDash vs. Postmates: The great Denver food delivery race

Four of us — with a deep sense of ceremony — hit “order” at the exact same time, summoning our unwitting competitors.

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Veggie sandwich from Majestic Deli. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

Roasted veggie sandwich from Masterpiece Deli. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

 

Imagine this: Lunchtime has come and gone and you haven’t moved from your desk. Your stomach is growling and you’re too loopy to focus on the 30-step expense report that’s keeping you there in the first place.

You need food, and you need it delivered. Right now. So which service is the fastest?

Let’s race ’em.

The restaurant is Masterpiece Deli, the order is the roasted vegetable sandwich and the time is noon. As luck would have it, it’s raining today, simulating the conditions under which one might be inclined to order delivery. Four of us will — with a deep sense of ceremony — hit “order” at the exact same time, summoning our unwitting competitors.

The services represented in the first annual Food Delivery Olympiad: GrubHub, Seamless, Postmates and DoorDash.

First, some stats
  • The sandwich costs $10.
  • GrubHub cost us $14.03 before tip.
  • Seamless also cost us $14.03.
  • Postmates charged us $18.15.
  • DoorDash ran $14.79. 
The play-by-play

11:59: ATOMIC CLOCK COUNTDOWN

Noon: Orders sent.

GrubHub and Seamless estimate 12:45 to 12:55. Postmates is estimated for 12:44 p.m. DoorDash estimates 12:39.

It’s worth noting here that GrubHub and Seamless are owned by the same company. This is like Serena and Venus facing off for Olympic gold. They also both sent confirmation texts, which I imagine is something the Williams sisters would do if you made plans with them.

“Hey, this is Seamless! Masterpiece Deli – LoHi is making your order right now. If we had to guess how soon you’ll be eating, we would guess pretty soon!”

GrubHub’s said the same, but, you know, with its own name.

Chloe Aiello: What’s with the ambiguity, Seamless?

12:13 p.m. GrubHub and Seamless send the same text at the same time: “A Driver is Headed Your Way With Food: A Story of Dreams Coming True.” We’re wondering if it’s going to be the same person.

No word yet from Postmates or DoorDash beyond initial confirmation emails. Postmates usually shows your runner’s progress on a map, but that hasn’t kicked in yet. This does not bode well.

12:16 p.m. Editor Dave Burdick went and got pizza from across the street. He’s already eating and he’s a jerk.

12:19 p.m. The hunger and anticipation are palpable. I got a text from our coworking space saying I had a delivery at the front desk and the room was skeptical. It couldn’t be.

It wasn’t.

12:21 p.m. Postmates tells me my delivery person, who we’ll call Dude because they didn’t know they were racing, is at the restaurant. I can’t wait to watch Dude’s journey to my office. I’m glad he’s traveling by car in the rain, otherwise I’d feel badly. Still, I hope he wore a jacket.

Poor Andy Kenney, who ordered from DoorDash, is the only one totally in the dark about his food’s progress.

Andy: I got nothin’. I think they’re just confident, is the thing. The guy who’s gonna be late is texting you “I’ll be there in 3,” “I’ll be there in 5.” The guy who’s gonna be on time just shows up. I’m gonna be first.

12:28 p.m. DUDE IS IN LODO. I’m feeling good about my odds with Postmates. But how much faster would they need to be to justify the heftier price?

Dave: I would say it needs to be 10 to 15 minutes faster, in pristine condition and… I don’t know, there’s basically nothing anyone could do to convince me to pay a $7 fee for a sandwich.

Christian Clark: They have to have a thing like Willy Wonka, you know what I’m saying, to zap it to you. .. I can wait 30 minutes for $7.

12:30 p.m. GRUBHUB WINS! GRUBHUB WINS!

food race winner

Click for recommended listening.

12:31 p.m. Wait, wait, wait. Our hunch was correct. One person arrived with the GrubHub AND Seamless orders. Chloe did not get an alert from Seamless. Maybe they were onto us.

Dude is on Speer by the Auraria campus.

DoorDash remains a big question mark. A wild card. They’re working in mysterious ways. We’re working hungry.

12:36 p.m. DOORDASH IS HERE.

Andy says the delivery man was “a nice guy” and said he saw Dude at Masterpiece Deli. No word on whether they tussled to get out the door first. The Olympics never fail to deliver the kinds of dramatic moments that grip our hearts.

12:39 p.m. Dude from Postmates is here. He drops the food at the front desk and leaves before I can get out there. It’s just as well. I wasn’t ready to look upon the face of defeat. I wonder how he feels, what he’ll tell his parents… but no, he doesn’t even know what was at stake. 

The results of our delivery competition--looking a little rough, Postmates. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

The results of our delivery competition -- looking a little rough, Postmates. (Chloe Aiello/Denverite)

The first ever Food Delivery Olympiad was emotional, thrilling and stomach-rumbling. Hopes were dashed and dreams came true. For the closing ceremony, we all take big, crunchy bites together, unifying us all in the spirit of delicious sandwiches as the sounds of satiated hungry crackle in the air.

Christian offers some parting thoughts: It’s really dang good.


It’s worth noting that all of the food arrived before the estimated delivery times, though not significantly.

It’s also worth noting that we all ordered at the exact same time, down to the second, so the first leg of this race was about which services processed their order faster.

Finally, yes, we know this is not particularly scientific. Maybe you’ve always had better luck with Postmates. Good! It takes hard work to get to the Olympics, and these services got here by being the best. But you only get one shot for glory in the games.