Uber Eats is cracking down on an explosion of 'ghost' menus, where restaurants feature the same food under as many as 20 different brands

  • Uber Eats has new rules for delivery-only brands on its app, the Wall Street Journal reported.

  • Digital brands will have to show that their offerings are different from other restaurants.

  • Some restaurants are listing their menu up to 20 times under different names, the Journal reported.

If dinner options on Uber Eats have all started to look the same, you're not imagining it.

The delivery app plans to remove roughly 5,000 brands that sell food through the platform, Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. Those restaurants represent about 13% of all virtual brands on Uber Eats, according to the Journal.

The reason: The brands were the result of restaurants copying and pasting their menus in various forms as they tried to win over customers with new names or branding. In one example, a Pakistani restaurant in San Francisco posted its menu 20 times under different names, according to the Journal.

Seeing so many different versions of the same options "erodes consumer confidence," John Mullenholz, head of dark kitchens at Uber Eats, told the Journal.

Virtual brands, or "ghost" menus, aren't physical restaurants. Instead, their orders are prepared by restaurants looking to up their sales and appeal to new customers. They often target different demographics than the brick-and-mortar restaurant, using a different name or fresh branding.

Virtual brands proliferated during the pandemic. Uber Eats offers food from roughly 40,000 virtual brands, up from 10,000 in 2021, according to the Journal.

Some restaurants, such as Denny's, use virtual brands to offer items that aren't on the menu at their physical restaurants. Celebrities from Wiz Khalifa to MrBeast have also used them to create their own delivery-only menu items.

Starting on Tuesday, virtual brands on Uber Eats will have to have to include pictures of five items unique to its menu, according to the Journal.

Additionally, over half of the items on each brand's menu will have to be different from its parent restaurant. DoorDash and Grubhub have policies requiring that at least half of the items on a virtual brand's menu differ from that of the physical restaurant, Insider reported last year.

Uber Eat's new requirements are part of a broader set of rules for virtual brands that the company plans to roll out this week, Uber told Insider.

"Communicating — and beginning to enforce — these new quality standards for Virtual Restaurants on Uber Eats is an important step for our program, designed to benefit both consumers and merchants," Mullenholz told Insider in a statement. "We took care to introduce standards that let our restaurant partners continue to flex their creativity, as we know delivery-only menus are an exciting way for operators to invest in the growth of their businesses."


Read the original article on Business Insider