NEW YORK (WPIX) — The saying goes “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Grubhub offered that to New Yorkers Tuesday, but the perk wasn’t without complications.
“Real New Yorkers are joining us for free lunch,” the food delivery service tweeted Tuesday, also sharing a code for customers. The deal ran from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Grubhub said part of the inspiration for the promo was their study that found 69% of New Yorkers admit to having skipped lunch because they are too busy. “GrubHub is helping them reclaim this important meal,” the company said.
Hungry residents were quick to take up the offer, but some experienced problems with the app’s interface. “Well this was a cute idea,” one customer wrote, “but it’s 11:16 and your app has already crashed.”
Others said their orders were canceled after using the promotion. Some were able to place orders, but experienced delays. “This is not going well,” another New Yorker wrote. “My order has been in the works for 2 hours and the restaurant is now ‘closed’ but keeps hanging up on my phone calls. I’m starving. The restaurant is probably on fire.”
Grubhub told BuzzFeed News that at times during the promotion, the app was averaging 6,000 orders per minute. Fee Bahktiar, who manages Jajaja Mexicana in Manhattan’s West Village, told The Guardian she was shocked to see 40 orders already waiting when she opened at 11:30 a.m. “I was like, wait, this can’t be real,” Bakhtiar said, adding that she didn’t get an app notification or email from Grubhub warning her about the impending flood of lunch orders.
One of the owners of Toad Style BK, a casual vegan eatery in Brooklyn, told NPR they were overwhelmed by the promotion-fueled orders. “It’s awesome to get so much business, but we would have liked to have had foresight,” co-owner Tyler Merfeld said. “We could have had more people working. It was busier than the Super Bowl.”
According to the company, however, the order volume should have been expected. On Twitter, Grubhub wrote they “provided advance notice to our restaurant network” about the promotion. “We are thankful for the incredible work they put forth today and are working to address any concerns they may have and optimize for future offers,” the tweet thread continued.