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Local Restaurant Owners Accuse Grubhub and Microsites Of Hijacking Their Online Identities

ROSS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) -- Local restaurant owners say they're furious. They have narrowly survived the coronavirus pandemic and boarded up during protests.

But now they're running into new issues with Grubhub and other third-party delivery apps.

Some say they're listed on Grubhub without ever signing up, and others claim the apps are creating fake websites masquerading as the restaurant's own site.

KDKA investigator Meghan Schiller reveals what restaurant owners want you to know before ordering online.

Do you ever call a restaurant to check on your Grubhub order and hear "We don't partner with delivery apps?" Do you Google your favorite place only to find multiple websites for the same restaurant?

You're not losing it. It's frustrating the restaurant owners, too.

In Ross Township, Adrian's Pizza pays its own delivery drivers.

"I was not interested at all and I told them 'No, thank you, I don't want to do business with you,' and they said, 'Well, we're going to do business with you anyway.'"

Jonny Fontina says he can't shake Grubhub. He never signed up but one day his menu appeared on the app.

"You can go on there and order Adrian's Pizza and the prices are incorrect. Our hours are incorrect. It's pretty disappointing," said Fontina.

He even noticed Grubhub delivery drivers entering his shop.

"They show up and pay for it with a Grubhub credit card," Fontina said.

Fontina said their questions tipped them off.

"It's kind of funny because they will ask, 'Are there five items in the order?' And that's a strange dialogue for a customer," Fontina said.

Grubhub drivers can call in orders on the customer's behalf even though Adrian's Pizza shop doesn't partner with the company.

Grubhub doesn't deny adding non-partnered restaurants to its platform, telling KDKA it could add a restaurant if it sees a "local diner demand for delivery," saying it "only added non-partnered restaurants to close the restaurant supply gap created by our partners."

After he reached out, Grubhub took Fontina's restaurant off the app.  Now it says, "This restaurant is not taking online orders."

Anthony Roman did sign a contract with Grubhub. He owns Roman's Bistro in Forrest Hills and the website

"Everyone that Googles us just trying to find us or find our menu to call in, they were going right to their website," said Roman.

He's mad because instead of landing on his website, his customers discovered a microsite. A microsite is a website created by a third-party delivery service to generate online orders for his restaurant, and the app company gets a small cut. Roman claims it hijacked his restaurant's identity, posting his menu with incorrect prices and information.

"It said curbside or delivery, so people were clicking on curbside so now Grubhub wasn't doing anything," Roman said.

Roman asked for the company to transfer the site and said he's done with all of the apps for now.

"Now we have all of our own staff doing the deliveries and it's so much easier," Roman said.

There's a simple way to take back control. Grubhub created an online request form where restaurant owners can claim ownership of these sites. And the good news for Roman is that Grubhub said it's no longer creating microsites, telling KDKA:

"We no longer provide that service and it has always been our practice to transfer the domain to the restaurant as soon as they request it."

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