How GrubHub Seamless Plans to Eliminate Ghost Restaurants From Its Listings

They'll actually go to the restaurant when need be.
They’ll actually go to the restaurant when need be. Photo: Richard Levine/Demotix/Corbis

Earlier this week, New York’s NBC 4 released the results of an investigation that found 10 of the 100 top-rated New York City restaurants on GrubHub Seamless listed an address that doesn’t correlate with the food’s actual point of origin. These so-called “ghost” restaurants are a problem, of course, because they could be private kitchens or businesses not certified to be real restaurants, which definitely doesn’t jibe with the Health Department. (Also, people should really just know where their food comes from.) As such, the delivery service says it will now work more diligently, alongside the Department of Consumer Affairs and the DOH, to prevent ghost restaurants from infiltrating its listings.

Abby Hunt, the director of public relations for GrubHub Seamless, tells Grub Street that her company has since removed the identified ghost restaurants from the listings, and that they’ve implemented several new verification steps, not all of which the company is willing to disclose. Hunt did divulge some details, though.

“We’re actually working to incorporate the data from the DOH to use it as a verification tool,” she says. “So if something doesn’t match up, it cues an investigation right away, which can include people from our team actually going to the restaurant to verify that it exists.” She adds, “We will require some legal documents and in-person verification if necessary.”

Some restaurants, of course, have an incentive to create ghost listings in order to gain more visibility, or to use names that will make businesses appear higher up in the service’s listings. Hunt says they’re still looking into how they can prevent that in the future.

At the moment, though, restaurants will be verified, Hunt says, both when they join the service and when any changes are made to the listing. So if a business tries to change its address, they’ll have to go through various verification processes to ascertain that the move is legitimate. “Only certain people within the company are able to make those changes,” Hunt explains.

GrubHub Seamless Against Ghost Restaurants