Groupon launches ‘upscale’ restaurant booking & discount service

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With its new Reserve product, Groupon is transitioning away from being just a daily deals site.

Diners can use Groupon Reserve to book tables at fancy restaurants for a discounted rate (up to 40 percent), no pre-payment required. For restaurant-owners, it’s an opportunity to fill tables on slow nights, a big boost for business. Well-known eateries like Le Cirque in New York City, Chaya Brasserie in Los Angeles, and db Bistro Moderne in Miami have already signed up.

Landing_PageGroupon Reserve isn’t just catering to restaurants, although that’s the initial area of focus. The website will also offer discounts for high-end spas, hotels, and salons.

Groupon Reserve was first tested on consumers in Chicago in May. The product has been under development for about a year and is part of the impetus behind the acquisition of, a New York-based reservations and dining discount startup. The program will use’s reservations engine.

With this new product, Groupon is targeting well-heeled consumers with spending power. In a statement, the Chicago-based company described Reserve as a destination for the “finest things to eat, see, do, and buy.”

Groupon fired CEO Andrew Mason in February after losing a fifth of its value and reporting disappointing quarterly losses. Mason was subsequently replaced by Groupon’s Executive Chairman Eric Lefkofsky and Vice Chairman Ted Leonisis. Lefkofsky said in a statement Monday that the management team intends to push the company in a new direction: “upscale offers and exclusive experiences.”

“Reserve gives the most prestigious brands a new way to reach our large and desirable audience,” Lefkofsky continued.

The previous version of Reserve was invitation-only. As of today, the product will be accessible through a tab on the company’s website. It’s a new marketing model: Rather than pushing deals to consumers, Groupon hopes to pull people in with the new time-stamped discounts and reservations service.

To succeed, Groupon Reserve will need to secure high-quality discounts and quickly expand beyond restaurants. Many consumers favor free restaurant-booking sites like Opentable and European equivalent, Toptable (Groupon is already plotting an international expansion).

Groupon is currently available in 10 cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington.

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