A Vancouver restaurant owner is trying to fight back against the major food delivery apps by starting his own.

Brandon Grossutti has run Pidgin restaurant in Gastown for nine years. Before that, he worked in finance and technology. When the pandemic hit, he decided to put all his experience to use.

Around April last year, he built a new platform called FromTo, a food delivery platform that operates just like the major apps, but takes no commission.

“The goal is to keep the money in the pockets of our drivers, to keep the money in the pockets of our restaurateurs,” Grossutti said. “This isn’t the time to support multi-national corporations.”

Without turning a profit, growth has so far been relatively slow, but the platform now has more than 30 restaurants on board and is connected to more than 200 drivers, many of whom also drive for other apps.

“They (the drivers) take a fee of $6.50 per drive, plus the entirety of the tips, and the only thing that gets discounted from the restaurants right now is just the credit card processing fee at cost,” Grossutti said.

One of the businesses involved is Bao Down restaurant. Owner Matt Adolpho says he was one of the first to join.

He did so mostly, he says, because it’s locally owned and run. And it takes no commission.

“Because it’s no commission, I’ve actually lowered my prices on the app, on the website, to draw in customers,” he said. “I tease our clients with $3 beers on that site.”

The B.C. Government has recently moved to crack down on food delivery apps, capping commission fees at 15 per cent. This week, it was revealed that Skip the Dishes has begun charging customers a 99-cent “B.C. fee” in response.

Grossutti says most of the major apps have hidden charges, but “Skip was the only one that actually called it a ‘B.C. fee.’”

He admits his own platform still has a way to go. Right now, he’s focussed on building the technical structure to move from a website to an app, to make it more user-friendly for customers and restaurants.

He says his only aim is to keep money in B.C.