Feeling hungry but loathe the idea of scoffing down pizza or Chinese takeaway while sitting on your couch at home? Wouldn’t it be great if, with the tap of a finger, you could discover whether there were any spare tables at your local restaurant and any last-minute deals on offer?
Well, you can courtesy of EatClub, a chef-backed smartphone app that enables restaurants to offer last-minute deals to attract diners and fill empty tables. With already more than 470 restaurants in Melbourne and Sydney, and more than 60,000 customer downloads since its launch in Melbourne last October, the guys behind the popular app have their collective eye on expanding to Brisbane and Adelaide in the next few months and ultimately Britain, US and parts of Asia.
How does it work?
After downloading the app to your smartphone it’s a simple case of finding a deal you like, clicking “redeem” before anyone else does, and sending your booking details to the restaurant.
When you arrive at the restaurant just show your digital voucher and receive your deal.
Who’s behind it?
Nathan Besser, David Berger and Pan Koutlakis, pioneers of the $1.5 billion online food delivery market, are three of the names behind this burgeoning app who have joined forces to help restaurants win back customers from the likes of food delivery platforms Foodora, Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Menulog.
‘‘We think restaurants should be busier more often,’’ Mr Koutlakis, a former Melbourne chief executive of Foodora, told the Australian Financial Review. ‘‘Food delivery can be beneficial for restaurants that keep their dine-in trade alive but it seems that in Australia the food delivery business is cannibalising the dine-in trade, which is affecting the economics of businesses.’’
EatClub has some pretty big muscle in the food industry behind it too, having convinced celebrity chef Marco Pierre White to become an equity member.
The former MasterChef Australia judge has a 5 per cent equity stake in EatClub, according to ASIC records, alongside co-founders Ben Tyler, Matt Cantelo, Nathan Besser and David Berger.
It’s really a win-win situation. Punters are freed of the hassle of finding a free table and great deals at their local restaurant, while dining establishments who might not be able to afford the marketing necessary to attract more customers and are sometimes struggling to break even on weeknights when tables remain empty score more customers.
‘‘What we’ve created is a marketing vehicle [for restaurants] and an opportunity [for diners] to get a good deal,’’ said Mr White.
One of EatClub’s goals is to stymie the ever-growing impact of food delivery services on the Australian hospitality industry, providing restaurants with a service to lure customers to dine at their venues during off-peak times via live app notifications.
EatClub works by charging a small monthly membership fee to operators and a $2 per-diner fee for any guests EatClub brings into the restaurant.
EatClub is available to download on both iOS and Google Play in Sydney and Melbourne.