Social media coupons have a bad name. Groupon, Living Social and their ilk survive because they provide the illusion of a "good deal" to bargain-hunting cheapskates and the prospect of a quick hit of cash to business owners. Social media apps like Foursquare are annoying because they assume your friends give a rat's ass that you've just ousted someone you've never heard of as "mayor" of Yomama's Bar & Grill.
Comes now a new app, Gratafy, invented by two best friends from UW days, Ryan Halper and Brian Erke. Gratafy allows subscribers to send a tableside gift, a glass or a bottle, to friends. Gratafy launched this week with 30 participating restaurants, from Barolo and Barrio to Tin Lizzie and Zayda Buddy. Ten items or so per restaurant (a shot of Fernet Branca at Coterie Room, to an aperol spritz at Rione XIII).
The app works hand-in-glove with Facebook on smartphones. When you find out whose birthday it is, you can send a present. If you see a friend at a restaurant, you can send a glass of bubbly. The friend gets an alert via Facebook, email or text. You redeem the gift by showing the server a three-digit Gratafy code. Tax and gratuity are included.
Restaurants pay a fee per month to be listed, and Gratafy takes a commission on each Gratafy transaction. (Why not spell it right, "Gratify"? Heh-heh, the name's not available.) Gratafy's founders have already planned a nationwide rollout.