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LivingSocial’s ‘Almost’ Free Lunch Comes to San Francisco



It’s time for another Dollar Lunch Day thanks to LivingSocial. This time, the daily deal site is taking on San Francisco. On July 13, LivingSocial Instant Deals will go live in the City by the Bay and more than 100 restaurants will offer lunch for $1 to celebrate.

This is the third time LivingSocial is running with this unique promotion so it must be working for them. They report 27,000 $1 lunch vouchers were sold in Washington, D.C. in March and in June 15,000 were sold in Manhattan. Think San Fran can top that?

Tim O’Shaughnessy, CEO and co-founder of LivingSocial thinks it’s the perfect city for the product.

“We are excited to launch LivingSocial Instant Deals in a city known for both cutting-edge technology and fantastic food. Dollar Lunch Day is a perfect way to bring foodies, early adopters and LivingSocial members together to scour old stomping grounds and discover new favorites throughout San Francisco.”

Here’s hoping that Kennedy’s Irish Pub & Curry House has learned something from those that went before them. As expected, LivingSocial coupon holders in Washington ended up waiting in long lines and dealing with poor customer service thanks to the popularity of the deal. But hey, it’s an almost free lunch, right, so you can hardly complain.

But what about the business owners? Is this deal really worth the return on investment? The manager of Sticky Rice in Washington told the local news,

“It’s mostly just exposure. Generally, with these deals, you’re not making money, you’re not losing money—it’s kind of a wash. But we just look at it as phenomenal exposure, bringing in new people that might not ordinarily come to our area and hopefully making some new fans.”

If a restaurant ends up even at the end of Dollar Lunch Day, then it’s probably worth the chaos and pain. But is that really typical? Seems to me that a deal like this would more likely cost a restaurant money. You can chalk that up to advertising dollars, but surely there are easier, less chaotic ways to drive traffic.

Would you brave Dollar Lunch Day if it came to your city?

  • http://www.dcpracticetools.com Cindi @ Chiropractic Marketing

    Probably would not participate simply because I don’t like to stand in lines, especially if the heat index is topping 110 degrees like it’s known to do in the southern states. Just not a fan of hot, stinky, cranky people even for a free lunch. But…I think the idea is awesome, simply due to the exposure and the chatter it would create.

  • http://catalunyabooks.ecrater.com/ Catalunya

    I probably would not, if only because you’ll be treated to “here’s yours, please move on” attitude.
    From the business side this move (if they dont end up selling too many) would create a clientele for the future. Half the inertia in going to a new restaurant is “I dont know how their food is”, so overcoming that barrier will pay off in droves.