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This is the Best Delivery Service You've Never Heard Of

This company only accepts authentic independent restaurants—no big chains here!

Even though it's easy for customers to order food through third-party delivery services, it's common for those companies to take up to 30% of the profits from that order. This means less money is going into the pockets of some of your favorite local small businesses. While this hurts numerous restaurants having a hard time during the coronavirus pandemic, Chinese restaurants are having an even harder time bringing in business. This is why companies like Chowbus are the best delivery service to order from because they are geared to specifically help these types of restaurants.

Chowbus is a company that focuses on Asian food specifically. Their founder and CEO, Linxin Wen, was inspired to start the company when he realized there wasn't a service, in particular, that was highlighting high quality, authentic Asian food. It was one of the frustrations he had when coming to America from China to study. He wanted a place he could trust to get good Asian food, and couldn't seem to find it anywhere.

"So, I had an idea," Wen said. "Why not create my own platform to serve these types of restaurants?"

Chowbus focuses on authentic Asian cuisine.

With so many larger chains and corporations creating Americanized Asian food, smaller restaurants are feeling the burden to also share dishes that are Americanized and not authentic to the ones they really want to cook.

"I thought most Americans wouldn't want to accept the more authentic food, but I remember one time I invited my American friends to try the authentic food and they loved it," said Wen. "And I thought, 'this could be an opportunity.'"

While the experiences he had sharing authentic Asian food with his friends was one he was excited about, he realized that there wasn't a way for his friends to be able to pinpoint which restaurants were really authentic, given that many of them feel the pressure to Americanize their menu.

"It's an opportunity, but it's also a problem," said Wen. "I really wanted the restaurants to succeed and to cook the food they want instead of going with the flow."

Which is how Chowbus came to be. In 2016, Wen launched a company that focuses on restaurants that are truly serving authentic Asian cuisine. While numerous restaurants can hop on some of the more popular delivery apps, Wen and the company and Chowbus are particular about which restaurants they allow on their platform.

"There are some restaurants that reach out to us [about joining Chowbus], and we need to make sure that these restaurants are legit," says Wen. "We reject many restaurants because we really want customers to get on board with the best."

Courtesy of Chowbus

Chowbus uses a business model that other delivery services don't.

Even though ordering food on an app is still the same experience as most of these third-party services, Chowbus allows customers to order from multiple restaurants in one go.

"In order for you to order say from a restaurant but also a bubble tea, for many other platforms you would have to make separate orders," says Wen. "But it's different for Chowbus. People can order from the restaurant, and order the bubble tea next door."

This gives multiple Asian eateries—like a bubble tea shop—the chance to join a delivery service without having the pressure of making customers order enough to hit that delivery limit. So customers can order their favorite authentic Asian dishes from multiple spots in an area in one order, allowing all types of Asian eateries to get more business.

On top of that, Chowbus offers one of the best restaurant commissions rates. "That's why so many restaurants will even encourage customers to order on Chowbus," said Wen.

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How Chowbus has responded to COVID-19.

Right now Chowbus is located in 20 cities, but they plan on expanding to even more in the future. However, within the cities they are working with, they have done a lot in order to help the restaurants in need during the coronavirus pandemic. For starters, they lowered the delivery minimum limit from $20 to $15, and in cities like Chicago they were able to expand delivery range up to 40 miles to give restaurants an even larger customer base to work with.

Along with these efforts to bring in more customers, Chowbus has changed the pay commission for restaurants, lightening the burden of some of the payments restaurants would have to make with their orders. Because of their efforts, Chowbus has seen 90% of its partners stay in business during the pandemic. 

Lastly, Chowbus offers a restaurant punch card that goes with their loyalty program. Restaurants can honor the customer's loyalty by using the punch card, encouraging customers to frequently order from these authentic restaurants that need the business.

"We want to encourage more people to order from independent restaurants," said Wen. "The company really wants independent restaurants to be successful."

However, if customers continue to buy from the larger chains, it's going to get harder for these authentic eateries to make ends meet—especially during the pandemic. This is why Wen and the Chowbus team have graciously offered Eat This, Not That! readers a discount for their first order! Use the code EATTHIS6 for $6 off your first order on Chowbus and dine on the most delicious authentic Asian food you've ever had.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more about Kiersten