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It seems that no one on Chow has picked up on Groupon yet. Groupon is a web-based group coupon idea utilizing collective buying power that emails you daily opportunities to sign up for large discounts at restaurants, spas, dance lessons, even chiropractors (once.) But it seems to be mostly restaurants and there's a different offer every day that you can only sign up for that day. So far it's only in Chicago and you can check it out at www.groupon.thepoint.com. It's much better than restaurant.com in that the discounts are greater, the coupons are good for longer periods of time (usually 6 months) and they can be used for alcohol and for the full price of your meal.

Today, 3/6/09, they have Lalos on Clybourn which is pretty bad as Mexican restaurants go. However, in the recent past I have signed up for Groupons for Yats (which also has yet to be reviewed on this Board) Oceanique, Trattoria Roma on Wells and Smoque.

$20.00 for a $50.00 gift certificate at Oceanique that you can use on a Saturday for wine is a pretty good deal.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

P.S. I have nothing whatsoever to do with Groupon or the people who own/run it. I just think Chicago Hounds should know about and have the choice to take advantage of a truly unique opportunity to spend less money for more food at Chicago restaurants.

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  1. I love Groupon! It seems like I use one almost every week so I've taken to carrying a stack of them in my purse. I've used it twice this week -- one for Veerasway and one for Tsuki. Veerasway was great --the food was really original and very tasty. Tsuki was good food-wise but lacking in atmosphere. I've never had any problems at all using the Groupons. Just remember to tip on the full amount of the bill.

    I agree Lalos is pretty bad so I didn't buy that Groupon, but in the past I've bought ones for Mia Francesa, Ai Sushi, Demerra, India House, Sapori Trattoria, Yats, Sweets & Savories...I'm sure I'm missing some. I've got The Drawing Room, De Cero, and Bonsoiree lined up and I've been to all of those places before and they're all great so I'm totally looking forward to it! One of these days I'll tally up my total savings, but I'm guessing I've saved enough to buy at least a case of decent wine.

    1. This sounds right up my alley, thanks. Although, I normally use restaurant.com for the 80% off of the 20.00 for the 50.00 gift cert. they clearance out every month it seems. It's a decent deal. NOt all of the them are "not for use on weekends." Also, I was unaware that the resto.com ones were only valid for under 6 mos.

      1. just found this site, wondering if anybody has more feedback since 2009? thanks

        16 Replies
        1. re: geminigirl

          I've used Groupon and it works as advertised. However, just like restaurant.com, not every deal is great, and there are often restrictions. Some of the places offered on Groupon are highly desirable places where I would go anyway (unlike restaurant.com which seems to offer mostly a lot of dregs, with only a few desirable places, often unavailable because they are "sold out"). The biggest limitation I've seen with the Groupon offers is that the percentage savings are an exaggeration. For example, a restaurant will advertise "50 percent savings, get $40 off for a $20 Groupon" when in fact you're going to spend $150-200 to dine at that restaurant, so yes you'll save $20 but no you won't really be saving 50 percent on your bill.

          As a general rule, if you would be going to that restaurant/business anyway, and any restrictions don't apply to you, then getting the Groupon is probably a good deal for you. If it's a place you wouldn't want to be going to without the Groupon, it may not be worth buying.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            Hi ya folks. I live in L.A. and use Groupon often. I have NEVER had a problem. Used for the Skirball Museum membership, two weeks of unlimited yoga, restaurants, and even cold stone ice cream ($5 for 10$ worth). Much better than Restaurant.com which I DO NOT like nor use.

            1. re: Kitchen Queen

              I've used Groupon twice. Both experiences were disappointing (restaurants or food service). The businesses using this marketing feature tend to offer substandard fare, IMO. There may be exceptions where what's offered is a value, I understand, but not for me. I will not be using it in the future.

              1. re: gomexico

                I have found, most restaurants utilizing these "Deep discount" schemes are trending down, if they offer a 50% off deal; How and what are they buying for ingredients? There is no magic in the pricing in restaurants. You want to sell cheap, you must buy cheap ingredients.

                1. re: ospreycove

                  I agree with nsxtasy on this one. We've used Groupon a lot- but it's usually for either old favorites or places we've been wanting to try. When there's too many unusual restrictions, then it's usually not one I'd buy, but I don't agree that it means the restaurants buy cheap ingredients. We've used Groupons and had very nice dinners at Naha, Bonsoiree etc. where they don't even know you have a Groupon until you pay.

                  2728 W Armitage, Chicago, IL 60647

                  500 North Clark St., Chicago, IL 60610

                  1. re: ms. mika

                    As I mentioned, there is no magic, if a restaurant's profit margin is too slim how do you correct that? Cost of goods sold (COGS) has to be "slimmed down too. You can buy 3 grades of quality from SYSCO, (Reliance lowest, Classic, mid grade, and Imperial Highest), and other purveyors have simil;iar levels of quality. This is before getting crafty, like the well known NYC/NJ italian restauranttrick of using pounded pork loin for veal scaloppine.

                    1. re: ospreycove

                      Restaurants aren't going to reduce their quality because they offer the Groupon. They are offering the Groupon to try to increase their volume by increasing their market.

                      Some of the restaurants and food providers participating in Groupon offers are very high quality; others are not. If you get Groupons from places you already enjoy or have been wanting to try anyway, they are worth getting.

                      1. re: nsxtasy

                        Yes, I think the cost of the groupon comes out of an advertising budget, not food costs.

                        I have used Groupon many times to great success, and once, when I didn't understand the restrictions and couldn't use the Groupon, Groupon refunded my money immediately.

                        I think it's conceptually brilliant.

                        1. re: runwestierun

                          I was reading about a restaurant that recently closed, and it had offered a Groupon. The article mentioned that full refunds were available for unused, unexpired Groupons for that restaurant. Which is the way things should be, so kudos for them.

                          1. re: nsxtasy

                            Think like an owner....If your business was going along meeting its maiontained margin and showing growth; would you enter into a "deep discount" coupon program??? In general, these programs are lsst ditch efforts to revive a "dog with fleas".

                            1. re: ospreycove

                              @ospreycove, I disagree -- it's a limited-time offer (usually only available for a day or two) and for more popular restaurants the expiration date is a lot sooner. Offering a one-time discount doesn't mean the restaurant is desperate. It might bring in people who wouldn't have tried it otherwise, and I bet a fair number of the Groupons don't get used. The Boston offer today is for an excellent and very popular restaurant.

                              1. re: Pia

                                I disagree too. I have not used Groupon for any restaurants but the other day there was a deal from The Gap. It was $25 for $50 worth of merchandise. The Gap may not be where it was a few years ago, but I seriously doubt that the Groupon deal was a last ditch effort to revive a "dog with fleas".

                                1. re: valerie

                                  Valerie.......From a financial view, the Gap is in crisis, it has fleas and maybe the mange!! Stock at aboput $20.00 share vs. a high of around $50.00.

                                  1. re: BobB

                                    Bob: It was for the Back Bay location of Sel de la terre.

                                2. re: ospreycove

                                  I also have to disagree. The latest Groupon I bought was $8 for a $16 coupon at an extremely popular restaurant that is usually packed every evening. (Plan B in Glastonbury for you Hartford, CT area hounds)

            2. I started buying Groupons last spring. Over the summer my work hours were cut back to part-time, so I've been darned glad to have these pre-paid bargain meals! Here's my results so far (all in Seattle):

              * one place (Mulleady's Irish Pub & Restaurant) I'd been before and liked, which didn't disappoint

              * one place (Geraldine's Counter) I'd always liked for breakfast, but the Groupon was only for dinner; it got me there for dinner, which was good (but I still like their breakfasts better)

              * one place (Zippy's Giant Burgers) that I'd been meaning to try; the Groupon got me in there and it was just as great as all the reviews said. I'll go back.

              * one place (Waterwheel Lounge) that I NEVER would have tried without the Groupon, because it looks like a total dump from the street--but the food was terrific and I will definitely go back!

              I have several more Groupons to use, and I'm looking forward to it (we have reservations to use one tomorrow night at a highly-recommended Italian place, Osteria da Primo). I'll definitely keep buying them. I haven't found any of the places where I've used them to be at all substandard or disappointing. Some of them have been in the suburbs or in less-fashionable parts of the city, but that's okay with me--it's where I live! The restrictions have been minimal or non-existent--certainly not a problem. I think the Groupons are doing what they're intended to do: persuading people to get out of their usual neighborhoods or schedules, and hopefully turning them into regulars at a new place.

              Maybe Groupon hasn't been as successful at selling their plan to the same quality of restaurants in other cities, but in Seattle, I'm absolutely a fan!

              1 Reply
              1. re: MsMaryMc

                I'm also from Seattle and have been using Groupons for a few months. I absolutely love them. Many times, they highlight restaurants I've never heard of but would like to try. So even if I don't purchase the groupon, I get to learn about new places. I've never experienced any sort of restriction with them, which is what I love in comparison to restaraunt.com coupons. The groupons genuinely do work like gift certificates. I especially like that all the ones I've used include food AND beverages - alcoholic and non.

                Another site I've been using lately is livingsocial.com. Sometimes they have a buy one, get two certficates. So I purchase a $25 certificate for $10 and got another one for free.

              2. I've had great experiences with groupon so far. I got a coupon for half off bowling and got a $25 GC to a gourmet food store for $15, which I redeemed yesterday, no restrictions other than it couldn't be used for alcohol.

                1. We've bought a few of these (also "BuyWithMe.com" is the same idea), all for restaurants that we would generally go to rarely, but have been to before and liked enough to go back, but not for full price.

                  The catch sometimes is that you get $X worth of food for your coupon, but you have to spend it all that day. We had $50 at a BBQ place and after buying dinner for two, also bought a whole BBQ chicken to go and a bottle of sauce to use up the coupon.

                  1. I live in Boston, and I love Groupon/Buywithme/etc. I do like to double check the vendor's website for details (typical prices, etc.). As noted above, it's wonderful for places I already go to or have been wanting to try out. I've only had issues with my not paying attention to expiration dates and having to rush to go at the last minute (Groupon & Buywithme both sent e-mail reminders a few weeks out).

                    I've been very happy with both their customer service and the vendors' service as well. I definitely got the feeling the vendors were doing this in hopes of repeat customers. My biggest coupon regret is hesitating on the Savenor's (Julia Child's butcher shop--known to have beautiful but expensive meat) $30 for $15 coupons (and I could have bought two!), which sold out like hot cakes.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: quirkydeb

                      Deb - as a fellow Brookliner, I'm curious what local restaurants and other food venues you've seen offered on Groupon?

                      1. re: BobB

                        Bob: I'm not Deb, but I am a BHS grad still in the area. Between Groupon and BuyWithMe, I can't tell which is which, but I'm holding a certificate for Fireplace, and passed up one for Lumiere earlier this week. Did go to SoulFire (delicious!) last weekend with a deal from earlier this summer.

                        Most likely the next two dozen will be for spas and such.

                        1. re: BobB

                          Also: Kathmandu Spice, Chez Henri, Petsi Pies. Good stuff.

                          1. re: BobB

                            BobB, like L2k posted, I also have a Fireplace certificate. as well as Marshall's Fenway Farmstand, El Pelon, and Petsi Pies, and Nashoba Brooks Bakery (not quite as nearby). We used ones at Sel de la Terre (we got to choose which location), Stone Hearth Pizza, and Tupelo (yum!). The sites list recent deals on their websites (and I see I missed Rami's when I was on vacation!).

                        2. I hope Groupon expands to all of NJ. But, I wish the site only required a zipcode to match the city you seek not an email address.

                          1. I've been using Groupon in Atlanta for a year or two, and have purchased coupons for a couple of restaurants that I like to go to anyway. Plus got a great deal on my annual membership to the High Museum of Art through Groupon. I'm perfectly happy paying $10 for $20 off my meal, or $20 for $50 off...even if there is a bigger bill than that, I've saved something.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jmcarthur8

                              It's huge in SF. There are also a number of other companies which offer the same sorts of deals. I have used a number of these and they are great! I have tried a number of new places, as well as visited some old favorites which just happen to come up. As long as you tip on the pre-discount amount, no one seems to care at all.

                            2. I'm not sure if it's due to the age of the original posting, but the comparison between Groupons and Restaurants.com is wrong.

                              QUOTE from OP
                              It's much better than restaurant.com in that the discounts are greater, the coupons are good for longer periods of time (usually 6 months) and they can be used for alcohol and for the full price of your meal.

                              My take:
                              If you buy with the ubiquitous coupon codes, RS.com can be much cheaper. Try $3 for a $25 cert rather than 50-60%off with groupon.
                              There are no expiration dates on Restaurant.com certificates anymore. They used to be a year, but those seem to be removed. Groupon on the other hand, started out at a year for most of it's coupons, but has now moved to 3-6 months.
                              Yes, restaurant.com certs are not good on alcohol but I've only seen a small handful of groupons that are as well. I've seen some restaurants put crazy restrictions on both.

                              I buy many of both and usually find them to be a good deal.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Lixer

                                I like Groupon too and know many people who use it here in San Diego. I've gotten many good deals on restaurants, wine bars, chocolatiers and other things like kayak rentals and discounts of yoga and pilates classes are common too. Many similar ones have sprung up, Deal On, Living Social, to name a couple. And Yelp is in on the action too. Some are great deals at great places and some not so much, but it's a great way to try something new without breaking the bank.
                                I too wish there wasn't and expiration date, but it does motivate me to get there sooner than later.
                                We use Restaurant.com a lot too and always wait for the frequent 80% off sales. Recently there was a 90% sale which I'd never seen before, but the site was so overloaded I couldn't get thru. Lately there have been a lot of good or new restaurants on the site for San Diego and many are good for alcohol too. The offerings are always changing.
                                Last year when a restaurant went out of business Restaurant.com notified me and swapped that certificate for another restaurant of my choosing.
                                I love a good deal!

                              2. Groupon seems to be a great deal here in South Orange County, CA. Usually 50% off. The only thing down here is that most of what Groupon offiers is not restaurants. I haven't tried Restaurants.com in a while but my impression then was that the discounts vary a lot.

                                One similar service I tried (connected to KABC (LA TV station) was a 50% off deasl ($25 for $50 coupon) BUT they "shipping and handling" charge to get it mailed to me was almost $4. You couldn't print it out online. Still a decent deal, but felt like a bit of a rip-off.

                                1. Just in case anyone had any question about the viability of Groupon as a business model:

                                  My son tells me Groupon is only 18 months old. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think the most interesting thing about their success is that they combined the traditional call-center model of soliciting deals to offer with the internet model of getting customers. Well, that and the idea that a 29 year-old is selling his business for $6 billion.