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What’s the Catch With Restaurant.com?

by Jason on September 7, 2010

Eat.  Drink.  Save Money.

Sounds good right?  This is the tagline of the increasingly popular Restaurant.com.

Perhaps you’ve heard people talking about this site or have seen some advertisements on the web and wondered – what exactly is this and is it really a good deal?

I decided to take a look at this site for myself and offer my two cents on whether it’s worth signing up for.

The premise

Restaurant.com has two basic premises.

  • It’s a way for local restaurants to offer some deals to build a customer base and get their name out in the community and
  • It gives customers an opportunity to save money at these restaurants.

As much as I love marketing and small business, I’ll focus on the savings aspect for the customer.

How does it work?

You can search for restaurants in your zip code, by state or by popular cities.  If you’re going on vacation to Chicago, you can type the zip code where your hotel is located and search a few mile radius for some deals.

Once the restaurants come up you can scroll through to find out which restaurants are offering the best deals or scroll to find your favorites restaurants.Restaurant.com

What kind of deals are there?

Deals on the site range depending on the restaurant, but the most common deals are usually around 60% off ($25 gift certificate for $10 or a $10 gift certificate for $4).

If you subscribe to their mailing list, you’ll get emailed even more promotional offers and savings.

They recently ran a 90% off campaign, which I took advantage of to buy a $25 gift certificate to a newer local restaurant for $2.50!

What’s the catch?

The only catch that I see is that they have minimum purchase rules.   So for example, on my certificate I bought for $2.50, it can only be used with a minimum purchase of $35.

So you spend $37.50 ($2.50 for certificate plus $35 for dinner) and you get $25 off the price leaving you with a net of $12.50 out of pocket.  Throw in tax and gratuity and you’re looking walking out of there for about $20 out of pocket.

Not a bad deal, but certainly not the deal you thought you were getting.

The last time we used this we were short of our $35 limit by about $9, so we had to order 2 desserts, which we normally don’t order just to make the limit!

Other features

  • “Give a Gift” – This section allows you to buy a gift card for others.
  • Online reservations/Delivery orders – This allows you to secure reservations or order take-out.
  • Dinner of the Month Club – For a monthly fee you can sign up for or give a gift of this club, which gives you a $25 gift certificate each month redeemable on restaurant.com.

Final Thoughts

Restaurant.com is a great way to eat, drink and save some money at your favorite restaurants.  It makes even more sense if you get emailed great offers like the one I received above.

Give it a shot, I think you’ll be pleased.  But be careful.  Read the fine print and realize that you’re still generally going to drop a 20 spot for dinner.

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Tell us in the comments below:

  1. Have you used restaurant.com?
  2. What’s been your experience?

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