With lockdown in full force, Sydneysiders have been ordering more takeaway than a gamer with a Domino’s addiction. But for many people, the massive cuts major delivery platforms take has meant they’ve avoided calling in their fave food. Melbourne start-up Mr Yum – which launched an ordering platform in Fitzroy and Collingwood last month – wants to offer a solution. Instead of the 30 to 35 per cent charged by the big guys, it’s taking a commission of just 4.5 per cent on orders, by giving restaurants the chance to take control of their own pickup and delivery.

Launching today, the platform will initially cover Surry Hills and Darlinghurst, but as more restaurants sign on, it’ll spread to other suburbs. It’s got some decent sign-ons for its launch, including DOC Pizza (which opened not long before the pandemic hit Australia); izakaya-style diner Tokki; Korean eatery Soul Dining; coffee spot Royale Specialty; and Wilde & Co. Perennial favourite the Grounds of Alexandria (which is located in nearby Alexandria), is also in the mix.

“As you’ve seen a lot in the press, [charging those fees] is unsustainable, especially when it’s not incremental revenue (because the restaurants aren’t open for dine-in),” Mr Yum CEO and cofounder Kim Teo tells Broadsheet. “It’s been awesome to see customers becoming more aware of [those] unsustainable fees and ordering direct.”

Mr Yum started as a tool that allowed diners to scan a QR code on participating restaurant menus to see photos of dishes before ordering (forestalling both food envy and stickybeaking from other tables). Similarly, restaurants that use the platform for takeaway will load photos of each dish so customers can see what they’re getting. The platform is flexible; restaurants can use it to display both delivery and pick-up (many restaurants use their own staff to deliver, to keep them in work), and it can be used by breweries, meal-kit companies, pubs and delis, as well as restaurants.

The platform uses “clusters” to gather restaurants, making it easy for customers to order their meals locally. Once an area has had eight restaurants sign up, the team at Mr Yum will create one of these clusters and group the eateries within. That means if eight restaurants from Bondi join the site, a cluster will be created for the suburb.

“The cluster pages are an easy way for customers who want to support local to find out who is still doing takeaway and easily place an order,” says Teo. “The first cluster we launched three weeks ago now has 50-plus venues, and the one we launched two weeks ago has 25 venues. They really do gain momentum amongst locals.”

Mr Yum joins Bopple, which has slowly been getting take-up in Sydney after the Brisbane startup also launched here. Bopple takes a relatively small 5.9 per cent fee per order from its partner restaurants – less if they sign up for a yearlong subscription package (subscription fees have been waived for between one and three months during the Covid-19 crisis).