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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Restaurants are embracing delivery services to help keep them afloat while dining in is barred, but ChowNow, which sells restaurants order-management systems, is offering them a different bet: a membership program.

Why it matters: How well restaurants can withstand the current circumstances will determine whether they'll be around when we get back to eating out — and that could be months, a year or even longer from now.

How it works: Customers select from three membership tiers, and in exchange for an upfront fee, they get access to a set discount (between 15% and 25%) every time they order from the restaurant for a year.

  • Restaurants get to keep the entire membership fee, which more than makes up for the discounts customers get, says ChowNow CEO Chris Webb. A customer who signs up for a $100 membership for a 25% discount would have to order $400 worth of food in a year to recoup their upfront fee.
  • Scottish Bakehouse in Massachusetts brought in nearly $7,000 in membership fees in just a couple of weeks of testing the program.

Between the lines: The goal is to incentivize customers to order more frequently from a particular restaurant, both to feel like they're getting what they paid (upfront) for, and because they're getting a discount.

  • While food delivery services like Postmates already have membership programs that let customers skip the delivery fees on participating restaurants, Webb tells Axios that the company wanted to stick to providing tools to restaurants instead of making itself the product. "You crave a restaurant," he says. "You don't crave GrubHub... or any of the other apps."
  • Webb also argues that this is a better alternative than third-party delivery services, which charge restaurants a commission on every order (which has prompted at least San Francisco to cap those fees). Most orders ChowNow processes are for customer pick-up (even for the membership program) and restaurants that do delivery tend to do so with their own staff, he says.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
7 mins ago - Economy & Business

The pandemic isn't slowing tech

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Thursday's deluge of Big Tech earnings reports showed one thing pretty clearly: COVID-19 may be bad in all sorts of ways, but it's not slowing down the largest tech companies. If anything, it's helping some companies, like Amazon and Apple.

Yes, but: With the pandemic once again worsening in the U.S. and Europe, it's not clear how long the tech industry's winning streak can last.

Texas early voting surpasses 2016's total turnout

Early voting in Austin earlier this month. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Texas' early and mail-in voting totals for the 2020 election have surpassed the state's total voter turnout in 2016, with 9,009,850 ballots already cast compared to 8,969,226 in the last presidential cycle.

Why it matters: The state's 38 Electoral College votes are in play — and could deliver a knockout blow for Joe Biden over President Trump — despite the fact that it hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1976.

Wall Street braces for more turbulence ahead of Election Day

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Wall Street is digging in for a potentially rocky period as Election Day gets closer.

Why it matters: Investors are facing a "three-headed monster," Brian Belski, chief investment strategist at BMO Capital Markets, tells Axios — a worsening pandemic, an economic stimulus package in limbo, and an imminent election.