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Groupon Restaurant Craze

Is it me or ALOT of restaurants (the good ones, bad ones expensive ones etc) are all getting on the bandwagon? I have not done a Groupon or Living Social etc because I am always worried that the food would be a small portion, not tasty or just plain bad service. Kind of like your not paying full price feel....
Does anyone have a story related to any of these coupons? Just curious to try but not sure if I want to or should.

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  1. Just a quick request that you focus on stories about restaurants covered on the New York State board, since that's where this is!

    Though, paris1976, if you want to have a broader discussion, you can either post again on General Topics and leave this one here for the local discussion, or flag it using 'report' and let us know you'd rather it was on General Topics, and we can move it there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: The Chowhound Team

      Sorry about that. I was only trying to see about trying a Groupon or whatever to use in restaurants in Westchester. So in my mind I thought I was stll on food/restaurants. I will pay attention next time!
      Thanks for the info everyone....

    2. I bought a $70 3-course with bottle of wine dinner for 2 at the Willett House. It was my first time there, so I guess the Groupon incentive worked. The portions were the same as on the regular menu, and there was plenty to choose from. Service was good and the waiter said a lot of people were coming in because of the deal. So, while i typically shy away from coupons at restaurants, i'm glad i tried someplace new. The choice for wine was between red or white - expected for that price. So long post short, the deal made it go from the "Wallet House" to the Willet House.

      1 Reply
      1. re: byramgirl

        I also purchased and used the Willett House Groupon. We had been there before a few times but didn't love it enough to go back at their usual full/over price. With the three course Groupon the food, although limited in choices, was the same food you would be served without the Groupon and came with a bottle of wine. Although the wine choice was only red or white, we were expecting they'd offer a lower end bottle but they didn't - it was a good quality wine and not at all on the lower end. So, like you, Wallet House became Willett house again and it was a very good meal and an incredible value. Changed my feelings about the place although we haven't been back at full price yet - but would consider it more seriously now than before the Groupon.

      2. I have used Groupon/Living Social vouchers at several restaurants in both Manhattan and Westchester and have been mostly satisfied with the selection, service and portions. In fact, in many cases the service has been superior, because I felt they were trying to cultivate new regulars! In Westchester, we have used groupon or living social vouchers for the Willett House, Sofrito, Grace's Table, and Sonora. I currently have vouchers for 42, F.A.B and Hudson at Haymount House which we have not used yet. I think it is a great way to try a new place for lower cost!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Marge

          I was thinking about buying the Haymount House one yesterday.

          I bought a groupon or living social deal a while back for Malabar Hill which was amazing. It was something like $50 for 2 apps, 4 entrees, and 4 glasses of wine. We had an amazing meal at a fraction of the cost it would normally cost. Service was a bit slower than usual because of the volume of customers but the quality of the food was the same we've gotten on numerous full priced occasions.

        2. We have used Groupon's at Frank Pepe's, Bistro 808, Westchester Burger Co., AJ's Burgers. Portions, service, etc, were the same. In fact, they didn't know we were using the Groupon until the end. Not because we were hiding it, but we just never thought of presenting them in advance.

          4 Replies
          1. re: valerie

            I would imagine it depends on the deal. In byramgirls case at the Willet House (which sounds like a great deal btw) I'm guessing that she would have had to shown the groupon upfront. Not really sure how they work, I've never used one but how do you tip on those things? Do they tell you what the original meal was worth?

            1. re: GIOny

              You should tip on the full retail amount.

              I've always shown the Groupon ahead of time--seems like courtesy at the least.

              1. re: GIOny

                The Willett House Groupon had to be mentioned ahead as you were offered a prixe fixe type of three course meal. We asked for the regular menu to calculate the full price for the tip. You should always tip on the full value and not the groupon/living social price.

              2. re: valerie

                Actually, I just looked back at the Groupons I have purchased to restaurants. Some say "present upon arrival" and some say "present at checkout". So maybe we did give them the ones in advance that request it. Regardless, we have never had an issue with portions or service. And yes, we always tip on the full costs of the meal before the Groupon.

              3. I've used Groupons for a bunch of Westchester places: Malabar Hill in Elmsford, Zitoune in Mamaroneck, Growlers Bistro in Tuckahoe, just to name a few. All have been fine - in most instances, you're just ordering off the regular menu. I always tip generously on what the bill would normally be.

                I have a Groupon for 42 in White Plains that I'm saving for a belated anniversary dinner. Had a good experience with them food and service wise during Restaurant Week.

                17 Replies
                1. re: kdgchow

                  Thank you! I will def use them if there is a restaurant I would want to try.....

                  1. re: kdgchow

                    So what did you think of your Groupon meal at 42? We just ate there a couple of weeks ago (with the Groupon). The food was great. The menu had changed from what they had posted online, and the fried rice course was soup instead, and both choices were really excellent (mushrooom and butternut squash), much better than fried rice. I only had two complaints. First, that they seated us in the aisle between the two main rooms (opposite the kitchen window) with a view of White Plains and not NYC. There were 3 tables there and they seated another Groupon customer there (you had to tell them you had one beforehand because you got a special menu). And second, they added a 20% tip on the alleged value of the meal -- $160 (the Groupon cost $80)! Now, I have no problem tipping on the full amount of the meal but there's no way that those were $80 meals, and I don't tip 20%. After complaining but eventually agreeing to pay it, the waiter came back and said that he would remove it if I wanted, and I asked him to. I ended up tipping 18% instead, which I think was still too much given that I didn't believe the menu was worth $80 (this was not a menu you could order on your own and it did not have the more expensive things on it).

                    We've had pretty good luck with Groupon meals, in general. But I generally refuse the buy the ones that don't give you a set dollar amount to spend and instead base the value on ordering the most expensive things on the menu, and wine (which we rarely order). It doesn't end up as a good deal in that case, at least not for us.

                    1. re: MisterBill2

                      We were finally going to use our 42 groupon last night but got snowed out--rescheduled for a couple weeks. Mister B, what main courses were offered, thanks?

                      1. re: Marge

                        They had pork, a salmon caesar salad and a Portuguese Fried Chicken (listed as PFC, just a thigh) on the menu, but had sirloin steak (a nice thick piece) as a special (the online menu shows a kimchi filet mignon and a branzino). Appetizers were torched shrimp and a salad of arugula, cheddar and apples. Desserts were churros and a flan, of which the churros were the better choice and were quite good. If you call, they will read you the current menu.

                        My Groupon was expiring on the 6th and by the time I tried to get a reservation they had no Saturdays available. I ended up going on a weeknight at 6, and Opentable has 1000 point times on weekdays until 6, so I got an extra $10 back (2000 points = $20).

                      2. re: MisterBill2

                        Did the Groupon company or the restaurant tell you upfront that they would tack on a 20% tip?

                        1. re: Fowler

                          It was not listed on the offer page. I didn't get a chance to check the form (could not view it after the fact). I'm not sure if it was on the menu. But neither of the last 2 would matter since it should have been listed in the offer. They do take a 20% tip for Restaurant Week, but they do so based on the discount price, not the supposed regular price.The tip was $33.60 based on the $160 price + 2 iced teas @ $4. The Groupon cost $80.

                        2. re: MisterBill2

                          Unfortunately, we didn't get to use it before it expired. At least it still has the cash value so it's not completely wasted when we do eventually get to 42.

                          1. re: kdgchow

                            Kdg, try calling 42 and asking for an extension--they extended mine (expires 2/20 but we are not going till 2/22)

                            1. re: kdgchow

                              I wonder if they'll let you use the face value during Restaurant Week? I don't see why they shouldn't. And then you'll only get charged a tip on the reduced price! You should be able to spend the $80 relatively easily at 2 x $29.95 meals plus drinks.

                            2. re: MisterBill2

                              We used our groupon at 42 last night. Agree that the food was excellent, but certainly not worth anywhere near $160. The tip was not added on the bill, but we did leave 20% of the alleged value because service was impeccable. Although the food and service were great, this groupon was not at all a good value. We also prefer groupons that allow you to order off the regular menu, not a special groupon menu.

                              1. re: Marge

                                Agreed. I prefer to have a dollar amount I can order from the menu with. I really dislike the ones where you get an appetizer, two entrees and two glasses of wine, and base the value on the most expensive thing on the menu. When I look at what I'd actually order, I would never get anywhere near what they claim it's worth.

                                BTW I am planning to go back to 42 for Restaurant Week lunch. At least they won't ask me to tip on the normal menu prices.

                                1. re: MisterBill2

                                  MisterBill2, Maybe do not purchase the Groupon to begin with?

                                  1. re: Fowler

                                    Not if it's structured like that, no. If it's a straight $20 for $40 worth of stuff, then I will. 42 was an exception and I won't make that mistake again.

                                    1. re: MisterBill2

                                      tipping 18 instead of 20% makes an actual difference to you?

                                      it's 2013. In the NYC area 20% is an average tip.
                                      Service would have to be BAD for me to tip less.

                                      I'm still suspicious of restaurants offering Groupon deals... it strikes me as a desperate move.
                                      It's rare that a place offering one is actually a good restaurant.
                                      I'm not saying 'never', but definitely rare.

                                      1. re: weedy

                                        Tipping 20% on an inflated price bothers me. I don't see why 20% is an average tip. Given that the prices are high, the logic of tipping a higher percentage because it's NYC doesn't make sense for me But let's leave arguing about tipping or another place

                                        1. re: MisterBill2

                                          I don't see why anyone doesn't see that 20% is an average tip in 2013

                                          1. re: weedy

                                            Sorry, I guess I missed the memo. Do you have a link to it online?