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Culture

Uber expands food delivery service to NYC, Chicago

Known as UberEats, the service promises quick curbside food delivery from local restaurants.

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UberEats has expanded to New York and Chicago. Uber

People in New York and Chicago can now use Uber for more than just a car ride.

Typically known for competing with taxi and limo services by offering people different types of rides via its mobile app, Uber has also branched out into the food delivery business with a service called UberEats. First tested in Los Angeles and Barcelona, Spain, the service will expand this week to New York and Chicago, Uber said in a blog post Tuesday.

"Now people with the Uber app in all four cities can get food from the most popular, iconic restaurants delivered within minutes," the company said.

Uber faces challenges in the food trade from a handful of other tech companies. A taxi app called GetTaxi is changing its name to Gett and in July will start to offer people the ability to order food, such as sushi, pizza or wine. Apps such as GrubHub, Seamless and Eat24 also offer food delivery to hungry consumers.

Through UberEats, people who use the Uber app can request a meal just as they can request a ride. Uber said it changes the menus daily, making available a particular item from each of that day's participating area restaurants. (In New York, for example, the company said this week's menu includes a steak sandwich from Nam Pang and a kale Caesar salad from Sweetgreen.) Prices for lunch range from $9 to $15.

The option to use UberEats appears only when you're in an area covered by the service. You can then enter your location, view the menu and place your order. Uber promises to deliver your meal to your curb or another spot in minutes. The service is available in selected areas of New York and Chicago weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a delivery fee ranging from $3 to $4, regardless of how many items you order. In Los Angeles, the service has dinner hours during the week and a brunch option on the weekends. Want to customize your meal? Forget it. The items are "prearranged," meaning there are no substitutions.

UberEats provides Uber with a way to enhance its business beyond just car rides. The ride-hailing company has been dogged by problems ranging from allegations of not complying with regulations -- such as in January when Uber got into trouble with the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission -- to safety concerns, including drivers allegedly assaulting passengers. The company, founded in 2009, operates in more than 50 countries.

In its blog post, Uber said that "the response to UberEATS has been amazingly positive." In LA, the lineup of restaurants has grown. And delivery times have been carved to 10 minutes or less.