Yesterday saw a range of fast-food and coffee chains close - or plan to close - their doors temporarily due to the coronavirus.

However many smaller, independent operators are trying to stay open despite the obvious difficulties.

That includes many restaurants that are dabbling with takeaway and delivery-only options for the first time - and they're now being offered a hand by the country’s leading online delivery platform.

Just Eat has announced a package of measures, which it values at €1m, aimed at helping existing takeaways - as well as those seeking to quickly retool as takeaways for the weeks ahead.

"The suite of measures, which is available for the next 30 days, includes reduced commissions for independent restaurants - which is one outlet and groups of up to four - we've also abolished sign-up fees for those joining out platform during this period," said Amanda Roche Kelly, managing director of Just Eat Ireland.

"We've also made an investment in additional resources in operations and menu development as it’s important that we've a team of people who will specifically work with these restaurants, numerous restaurants, who are now seeking to offer a takeaway service."


Ms Roche Kelly said these businesses had never done this kind of thing before and so the key was to get them online quickly and effectively.

That will also see Just Eat offer advice on menus and opening times, as well as encourage restaurants with limited space to stop offering a collection service and switch to takeaway-only.

"Offer delivery and we'll help you get there," she said

Ms Roche Kelly denied that the package was an opportunistic market-share grab by Just Eat, but instead an attempt to keep businesses going in challenging times.

"We're doing everything in our power to drive the necessary orders to keep our restaurant partners open,' she said. "We're just so conscious that here are hundreds of local, independent restaurants in towns, villages and suburbs that have been forced to close their doors - this is the only way they can keep staff employed, stay open during the period ahead and we've been inundated with requests."

She said that there were no onerous obligations placed on restaurants that decided to take Just Eat up on its offer.

Restaurants are free to leave the platform at any stage, for example, while they can also list on rival services like Uber Eats and Deliveroo if they wish.

While the desire to keep businesses running was understandable, the fact that major chains had opted to close their doors would suggest that doing so while also adhering to social distancing rules was unrealistic.

However Ms Roche Kelly said their first concern was to its own workers as well as those of its clients, not to mention the customers at home.

She said they were doing all they can to guide and support restaurants, while ensuring they were compliant with HSE guidelines.

That has seen them give specific advice to certain operators, while also adding new features like 'contactless’ deliveries

"It's about keeping doors open, but we're doing everything in our power to guide, all in line with the HSE guidelines," she said.