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Australian diners dig into new foodie culture

UberEats is latest entrant in growing market amid more affluence

Broadsheet Restaurant in Sydney, open for two months until early December, teamed up with several famous restaurants to provide their most popular dishes in a single setting.

SYDNEY -- Australia's extended run of economic growth has led to more affluence, and its citizens are increasingly spending money on dining, as seen in the rising popularity of food delivery services offering menu items from all sorts of eateries. 

Symbolizing the trend was the popularity of a limited-period restaurant in Sydney that collected recipes from famous restaurants and gave diners the opportunity to eat a variety of dishes in one place. In addition, competition is intensifying among food delivery services, with new players such as UberEats by Uber Technologies of the U.S. entering the market.

Broadsheet Restaurant was launched in Waterloo in southern Sydney in an old warehouse district, and it was only open from Oct. 6 to Dec. 4. Australia's online city guide Broadsheet operated the restaurant with the aim of giving customers the chance to eat food from various restaurants in a single setting, according to Caroline Clements, a 31-year-old co-founder of Broadsheet. 

All 78 seats were booked for dinner every day, with each seat taking two to three customers every night, Clements said. 

A breakfast egg dish by Reuben Hills, a popular cafe known for its long queues, was among the most favored menu items.

Broadsheet rented the facility, hired cooks, bought ingredients and cooked recipes from 28 restaurants that provided their most popular menu items, including Cho Cho San and Da Orazio, Japanese and Italian restaurants, respectively. 

Broadsheet is an internet site that launched in 2009 as a Melbourne city guide; a Sydney edition followed in 2011. This year, pages were added for the remaining mainland capitals of Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. The site is especially popular with millennials, with analytics showing the average user to be 32 and unique visits at 1.2 million per month.

The Australian economy has grown for 25 consecutive years, and as living conditions have become more comfortable, Australians are increasingly spending their leisure time dining out, rather than spending time on cooking food at home, according to research company IBISWorld.

Riding a food wave

Increased demand has boosted sales at Australian restaurants, with the total figure having grown on average 5.6% annually over the past five years. And as growth in the year ending June 2017 is expected to slow to just 2.1% due to an overall slowdown in the country's economy, consumers are turning to home food delivery services, which are less expensive than eating out, IBISWorld said.

Key players in Australia's home food delivery market are Domino's Pizza, which was launched in 1983, and Menulog, which debuted in 2006, but competition has been growing after they were joined by Germany's Foodora and Britain's Deliveroo in 2015.

UberEats went live in Melbourne this past April and in Sydney three months later.

The company has taken advantage of the brand recognition established by the Uber ride-hailing service to successfully get famous local restaurants on board. These include Three Blue Ducks and Fratelli Fresh, which were initially reluctant to team up with delivery services fearing decreased quality and brand image. 

UberEats charges 5 Australian dollars ($3.64) per delivery and accepts single-item orders. It expanded into Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth in October and has become one of the largest players with over 500 registered restaurants. Its most popular item globally in October was a lamb sandwich wrap from a Greek restaurant in Melbourne, priced at A$12.5, according to the company.

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