I placed my first online food delivery order just over four years ago. It must’ve been one of those days when you’re so tired and hungry that you can’t even make a solid decision about what to eat. It worked, providing an easy solution, and I’ve been using GrubHub (founded in 2004) ever since.

The company merged with Seamless—another online food delivery service founded in 1999—in fall 2013 and its stock is trading at $35.36 a share as of Sept. 29, nearly $10 higher than at its initial public offering in April.

Together, GrubHub and Seamless processed approximately $1.3 billion in gross food sales in 2013, according to their prospectus, and the company—now known as GrubHub Inc.—is banking on its ability to offer an efficient and pleasant experience for both consumers and independent restaurants around the country.

At least a dozen other companies have sprouted up over the past couple of years looking for a niche in this now highly competitive and lucrative marketplace for takeout and delivery, including Caviar and Fluc—both founded in early 2013—which see potential at higher-end restaurants that historically haven't offered takeout or delivery.

It might seem counter-intuitive at first—isn’t half the fun of eating high-quality food the experience of being served freshly plated dishes, while a waiter replenishes your wine and oh so delicately refolds your napkin while you run to the restroom?

Paulie Gee thinks so.

He owns Paulie Gee’s (a pizza joint) in Brooklyn that eliminated takeout this month.

“There’s a chance that the character of the food will change” as it sits in a box, particularly for pizza, he said.

And just as important, take-out orders were affecting sit-down service.

“It’s very hard to deal with. Someone calls and you have to answer the phone to take the order,” forcing guests who arrived in person to wait longer for a table and their pizza, he said. “We got an order (one time) for 13 pizzas and they ordered it for 7 p.m., so we were expecting it, but nobody (in the restaurant) could get any pies.”

A lot of his customers aren’t happy about the decision, though, he said, and he’s willing to compromise on the issue if he can find a pizza delivery box that doesn’t ruin the crust or make it soggy.

But he’s still reticent to use any third-party delivery services.

“The thing that bugs me is that this could be done without your consent,” he said, but notes that “Postmates was great. I expressed my concern and they took down my menu. I don’t want to worry about updating all of these sites (every time the menu changes.)”

Caviar addresses this concern by collaborating directly with the restaurants featured in its app.

“We work closely with each restaurant and take photos of each individual menu item, so we can help each restaurant showcase their new dishes and reach more customers,” Caviar CEO Jason Wang told Chefs Feed via email.

And it seems to work. Yusho, a Japanese-inspired Chicago restaurant, has been using Caviar for corporate lunch catering since May 2014. It has allowed the restaurant to expand its takeout options while preserving predictability for the kitchen.

“We’re not really setup for high-volume delivery and some items don’t travel well that we’d rather see on a plate,” Yusho’s General Manager Timothy Koenig said. “Caviar approached us about corporate orders and we decided to go that route.”

While Yusho offers a special catering menu on Caviar that’s not part of its normal dinner service, other restaurants offer individual menu items for on-demand delivery orders.

Both Fluc and Caviar charge a flat fee, from $6 to $10, while Postmates’ fee starts at $5 (depending on the distance for the delivery) plus a 9 percent service fee.

Offerings and fees may vary widely but there’s sure to be a delivery app that suits every appetite and budget now and in the future. Or, you can always just Push for Pizza.

By Sara Bloomberg