This YouTuber Opened A Fake Restaurant — But Got Away With Selling Microwave Meals
Unless you’ve actually been to and eaten at a physical restaurant, how do you know that you’re ordering food from a legitimate eatery when you’re using food-delivery apps like Uber Eats and Postmates? You kind of just assume that your app of choice has vetted each place to ensure legitimacy, right? Well, as the saying goes, to assume anything makes an ass out of you and me. As one YouTuber proved, it’s actually possible to trick food-delivery apps into believing that any place is a reputable restaurant — including one’s own kitchen from which microwave meals are served.
Um…we’re feeling amusement and betrayal all at once, and aren’t sure how to handle it.
On September 7th, YouTuber Josh Pieters uploaded a video titled “I Sold Microwave Meals on Deliveroo,” and no, that title is not clickbait. Pieters successfully sold store-bought microwave meals via Deliveroo, a London-based food delivery service that operates across Europe, the U.K., and beyond, to unsuspecting app users who thought they were ordering delicious Italian cuisine.
Lucky, or perhaps, unlucky, for us, Pieters documented the entire process he and his friends took to become Deliveroo official.
And although it’s a hilarious series of events, we have to admit that we will second-guess every single meal we order from a delivery app from here on out.
The first step: Come up with a name for the place.
“Would Deliveroo allow me to sell microwave meals on their app? Probably not,” Pieters narrates in his video. “You can’t just pretend your microwave is a restaurant.”
“But, if you did,” he continued, “you’d need a name.”
And thus, The Italian Stallion was born.
However, more than just a name is needed to cheat the system.
Pieters and his friends, including “magician and presenter” Archie Manners, knew they had to put in more effort in order to really sell the fact that they were a real restaurant. Otherwise, Deliveroo would see right through their scheme.
So, after naming The Italian Stallion, Pieters set the place up with a website (italianstallionldn.co.uk). And yes, the site is still up and running.
To really test Deliveroo’s staff and vetting process, Pieters included a photo of Gemma Collins from MasterChef up front and center, posing as The Italian Stallion’s head chef.
And the photos seen on the site aren’t fakes.
The Italian Stallion team could have easily ripped nice-looking food photos from Google Images. But to fully commit to the heist, Pieters and Manners staged a photoshoot.
Because even the best hoaxes require effort.
We don’t know how they did it, but these guys were able to make their cheap AF food look expensive.
Selling the illusion even more, Pieters bought The Italian Stallion 1,000 followers on Instagram, you know, in case Deliveroo needed “proof” that people like this restaurant.
Next, legal actions were taken.
Of course, having a working website and an Instagram account isn’t enough to prove your business is an actual business.
So, Pieters and Manners registered The Italian Stallion with the local council, thus making it a legal business.
Um, does that process of legalization seem almost too easy to you, too?
What’s more is that Pieters registered the restaurant as a company, as well.
So, not only was he cool with the council, but The Italian Stallion is also a registered private company: The Italian Stallion LTD.
The hope was that Deliveroo wouldn’t look up The Italian Stallion’s owner, Josh Pieters.
Because then they would find out that he is not really a restaurant owner, but a YouTuber with over one million subscribers. And then, the jig would most certainly be up.
The only problem: The Italian Stallion didn’t have a hygiene rating.
That fact alone seems like it would stop Deliveroo in their tracks from wanting The Italian Stallion on their app, right?
Well, not exactly.
“You guys can still operate as long as you’ve put the application in,” the Deliveroo employee assured them over the phone. “You can still operate on Deliveroo. It will just say ‘awaiting inspection.'”
Just as a precaution, Pieters got a lawyer involved.
“Whilst Deliveroo may [not] check things, I do,” Pieters said. “So I ran the contract past a lawyer.”
Basically, the lawyer said that if Deliveroo decided to sue because of the deception, Pieters really wouldn’t be involved.
This is because the company would most likely be suing The Italian Stallion LTD. “From my perspective, I think having The Italian Stallion LTD as the company that’s contracting them protects you quite a lot from any [contactual] claim from Deliveroo because if they sue The Italian Stallion LTD. who cares?” the lawyer said over the phone.
So, with everything cleared, The Italian Stallion was open for business.
The menu — aka a complete list of all the Italian-ready meals the local grocery store sold — went live. The Italian Stallion was ready to receive orders via the tablet Deliveroo kindly sent Pieters.
Are you losing faith in humanity yet?
The entire process to get The Italian Stallion on Deliveroo took about two to three weeks, Pieters told Time.
“Not that we were constantly doing stuff throughout that time,” he said. “It was obviously just a lot of back and forth making sure everything was right and then getting us signed on, waiting for the tablet to arrive and all that kind of stuff.”
Pieters and Manners did a test order using their friend Amber as a guinea pig.
And, although it was a chaotic process, it worked.
Which, obviously, makes us nervous.
“I think what’s interesting about this,” Pieters said in his video, “is that we don’t have a food hygiene rating. Deliveroo know we don’t have a food hygiene rating. This is just my kitchen.”
Fortunately, no one lost any money during the scheme. Here’s how:
In order to make their illusion less, well, icky feeling, Pieters and Manners decided to enclose a letter of explanation, as well as the amount of money each customer spent on their “premium-priced” microwave meals, in each Deliveroo order they received.
“Hopefully, that will keep everyone happy,” Pieters said.
It took a minute for the orders to start flowing in.
So, Manners had the idea of setting up a sale — all orders over £12.50 would be 40% the total price.
And sure enough, the sale tactic worked.
Pieters and Manners suited up in their chef uniforms and hit the local grocery store to stock up on the necessary items before the delivery man arrived.
Somehow, their ramshackle system worked like a well-oiled machine.
While Pieters popped meals into the microwave, Manners and other recruited friends sprinted around the grocery store looking for the right ready meal.
“It takes a village” has a whole new meaning now, doesn’t it?
Hands were kept clean, money was included in each meal, and delivery drivers were not kept waiting for longer than necessary.
It seemed to be hectic, but okay.
At the end of the day, The Italian Stallion brought in over £100 ($124.28).
And then, of course, gave said £100 back to their customers. According to Time, Pieters and Manners filled a whopping five orders total.
“I think we’ve established that you can put the microwave in your kitchen on Deliveroo,” Pieters concluded in his video.
Weird, but true. Weird…but true…
And, according to Pieters, none of their customers were upset.
“We got feedback from two customers who said that the food was great,” Pieters told Time.
And, of course…
“They were also thankful because we put back the amount of money in the delivery bag that the people had spent because we didn’t want to be ripping people off by charging them like £10-£12 for a meal even though we were buying the meals for a lot less,” he added.
And as far as we know, The Italian Stallion LTD has not been sued by Deliveroo.
You can check out Pieter’s entire video below:
Our opinion about food-delivery apps has been forever changed.
And we’re not the only ones. Just take a look at the comments beneath the video.
Some will never be the same:
Anyone else feel weird about the fact that you don’t need a hygiene rating to sell food through the app? I mean, how do they know that the food is even safe?
Based on their own restaurant experience, one user wasn’t surprised.
Next time you order fries and they taste exactly the same as the fries you get straight out of the freezer, maybe you should think twice.
Another was highly impressed by their system:
One commenter was so impressed that they though Pieter and his cohorts should actually put that energy into starting a real restaurant. They sure do know how the get the ball rolling!
Hopefully, though, they’d get an actual hygiene rating next time…
Another viewer, who was a former Deliveroo driver, actually wasn’t too surprised by the video. Unfortunately, it seems that they’ve encountered establishments that don’t exactly look, well… clean.
This is so unfortunate to hear:
As for our favorite comment, it definitely falls in the “comedic” category. This person actually took a second to imagine what it would be like if someone asked for the restaurant’s location.
“Just upstairs actually.”
Will we ever trust Uber Eats again? Probably not. But if the food tastes great, then perhaps it doesn’t really matter if its from a microwave or not.