Whether its because a restaurant manager at a Michelin starred restaurant doesn’t want to be associated with e-coupons or because you may look like a cheapskate pulling out a printed e-mail at the end of a first date– e-coupons, whether they’re from Groupon, LivingSocial or any other of the thousands of daily deals sites simply don’t work very well at high-end restaurants.
VillageVines, a New York City start up that made our top 20 list last year, took a very different approach. While it looks like a daily deals site, it’s not. It’s like an unpretentious fine dining club that helps up and coming foodies dine as if they were making 6-figure salaries.
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The service operates by asking diners to make online reservations through VillageVines, paying $10 in advance to secure 30% off of their total bill including both food and drinks at most restaurants. The 30% is taken off automatically through VillageVines’ reservation system; no printing of e-coupons needed, so you won’t look silly on a first date. A VillageVines member recently posted on its Facebook fan page a receipt showing the member saved $490.73 at Vidalia in Washington, D.C. while another person posted a receipt showing savings of $256.50 at Delmonico’s in New York.
In comparison to daily deal sites, the service offers restaurants more control over which tables are discounted, yet still books tables that may have otherwise been empty. This year, VillageVines is scheduled to help drive over $1,000,000 of revenue to the Richard Sandoval restaurant group alone.
“Partnering with VillageVines works for us because it is different than usual promotions and daily deal services,” says Robert D’Arcangelo, general manager of New York’s famed Kittichai. “It doesn’t feel like a discounted free-for-all. Much like Gilt City, it targets a specific high-end market, but I think VillageVines caters more to food conscious people.”
Starting today, renowned chef and restaurateur Peter Xavier Kelly, one of the few contestants to have beaten Bobby Flay on Iron Chef is launching two of his critically acclaimed New York area restaurants, Xaviars at Piermont, one of three restaurants in New York State with a highly coveted 29 food rating on Zagat and X2O on VillageVines, along with 15 other New York area restaurants.
VillageVines was founded in NYC last May and has since expanded to multiple cities (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, D.C.) partnering with New York Magazine, MenuPages, Foodspotting and TimeOut NY. They also recently raised over $3 million dollars in an investment lead by Hearst Interactive Media this past January.