Coronavirus Help: San Mateo company launches free takeout system to support struggling eateries

David Louie Image
Saturday, April 18, 2020
EMBED <>More Videos

San Mateo based tech company Rakuten is offering a free, easy-to-use online takeout system for small restaurant owners struggling to make sales during the COVID-19 crisis.

SAN MATEO, Calif. (KGO) -- Small family-owned eateries are facing tough times, struggling to survive on takeout orders alone.

A big tech company in the Peninsula noticed and moved into high gear to create a way to help them.

This new service launched Monday afternoon. It's called Rakuten Takeout. It's offering a free, easy-to-use online takeout system that could give them a boost when they really need it.

It has never been this tough before. Paulo Rossetto, who has owned Mr. Pizza Man on Fourth Avenue in San Mateo for eight years, has seen a 65% drop in income.

There's no catering business and no dining in. So he's totally dependent on takeout.

RELATED: Coronavirus crisis: What does it cost a small business to stay open in the Bay Area right now? A lot

"This is my only way to make money- me and my wife," said Rossetto. "My kids, they have their own jobs, part-time outside, but they also are part-time employees here, so basically the whole family is involved in the business."

Paulo isn't alone. The once vibrant downtown San Mateo restaurant scene has ground to a halt.

Employees at the e-commerce company Rakuten noticed. A team of 12 began creating a platform to help small eateries survive by promoting takeout to its 13 million members, starting with San Mateo.

"Consumers in the local community will react and will help us together these restaurants, but also in the long run, our goal is not just to help them survive these challenging times but thrive going forward," said Rakuten Americas president & CEO Amit Patel from the company's San Mateo offices.

Rakuten, which means opportunity in Japanese, won't charge a commission for the next six months. Francisco Ayala, who owns Chicos Taqueria on 25th Avenue in San Mateo with his father, has seen a 50 to 60% drop in sales. They're trying to support extended family members who have lost their jobs.

RELATED: Coronavirus: Small business owners in Bay Area struggle to apply for new lending program White House rolled out

"That helps a lot," said Ayala about Rakuten Takeout. "We can use the commission to buy more plastic bags, utensils and other stuff that we need. It's a little bit of help, yes."

Customers who order takeout from the Rakuten site will earn 20% in cash back.

Both family run businesses are behind in their rent. When they look around them and see other restaurants that have closed, they're grateful for Rakuten's support. Now it's up to customers to start ordering.

If you have a question or comment about the coronavirus pandemic, submit yours via the form below or here.

Get the latest news, information and videos about the novel coronavirus pandemic here