Never thought you’d order Uber Eats from the Coffee Club? You might have and not even known it, writes Sam Brooks.
I spend a lot of my time scrolling through the Uber Eats app. Only half of the time is it because I’m looking for something to eat. The other half, I’m browsing what’s on offer around me, places I can actually go to in person and eat if I’m feeling like a human being, or simply a place that will deliver me a fried rice and a Powerade on a difficult Sunday (there’s not a lot of those, unfortunately).
I’ve noticed over the past few months that more and more places around my area are showing up… in places they definitely aren’t, in real life. I even went for a walk to check out one closest to me. Instead of seeing a sign for small start-up indie restaurant “Burgers with Bite”, I saw… the Coffee Club, the stalwart “last resort” cafe chain from my youth. I was floored – why would the Coffee Club, a strong brand in its own right, masquerade as something else?
This is distinct from the ghost kitchen phenomenon, where multiple Uber Eats restaurants run out of one kitchen that isn’t, in itself, a restaurant. These are restaurants that have names, have established brands and stories, who are sneakily putting on a wig and pretending not to be that restaurant.
Probably because people might scroll past the Coffee Club on the app, but look at “Burgers with Bite” and go, “I would like a burger, with bite, please!” It makes sense, business-wise. It also makes sense that if your restaurant has more slots on the app, people are more likely to order from your restaurant.
It’s all fairly harmless, but I decided to see which popular brands are sneakily operating under other names, and in some cases, which restaurants are operating under multiple names to maximise presence on the app.
(Note: I am based in Auckland, so these are largely Auckland examples, though I imagine some of the bigger brands pull these sort of switcheroo in other cities as well.)
Burgers With Bite AND Sir Benedict (multiple locations)
This is the one that tipped me off to this whole thing. Restaurants that show up under both of these names on the Uber Eats, in fact, various branches of the Coffee Club (which is also available on the app).
If there was any doubt, there’s even a dead page on the Coffee Club website:
I have to admit, Sir Benedict was the one that duped me. Who was I to know that a place where I could order a “Sir Bene Bacon” (toasted ciabatta, baby spinach, poached eggs, creamy hollandaise with bacon) was actually a front for the nefarious Coffee Club? It was actually pretty good, for an eggs bene that has survived a trip in a car or on a bike.
EGG’D (multiple locations)
Pita Pit. This is Pita Pit’s breakfast menu.
This one didn’t require a lot of Sherlockian deduction – it simply tells you on the app that it’s part of Pita Pit. Similar to Bento Bowl, Egg’d is an official off-shoot of Pita Pit, with its own social pages.
Bento Bowl (multiple locations)
This is sort of a technicality – multiple St Pierre’s sites are also being run as Bento Bowls. St Pierres’ fronts carry the standard sushi and chicken-on-rice that you’d expect, while Bento Bowl’s menu consists of more elevated (I use the word loosely) donburi dishes.
This case feels more legit/official, with Bento Bowl having its own website, the official name being Bento Bowl by St Pierre’s. Like Marc Jacobs by Marc Jacobs, but sushi.
Popeye’s/New York/Country Fried/Money Heist (Mt Eden)
Would fried chicken by any other name taste as good? Probably! Because these are all the same – fried chicken, fried chicken, fried chicken. If you thought you might get a chance to try Popeye’s, the famous American fried chicken chain, alas, you won’t.
This one’s a little different in that it doesn’t seem to be a front for a big brand, but multiple fronts for Sitara, an Indian restaurant located at 407 Mt Eden Road! And honestly? The menu looks pretty good, no notes.
Butter Chicken Factory, Curry On, Curry in a Hurry (K’Rd).
You get the drill by now. These are all the same restaurant on K’Rd, and they’re Uber Eats exclusives, with more or less identical menus. Butter Chicken Factory appears to be the OG – I guess the owners couldn’t resist leaving those other top shelf curry pun names on the table.