For most students in Boston, the majority of meals come from campus dining halls or cheap pizza deliveries. The app Seated, started in Boston, aims to change this.
By downloading the app, booking a reservation and eating at the restaurant, users are rewarded for up to 30 percent of what they spent, according to the app’s website. After users upload a photo of their receipt to the app, they can earn rewards such as Starbucks and Amazon gift cards.
Seated also donates one meal to a child in need for every reservation made on their app through #ShareTheMeal, an initiative by the United Nations World Food Programme.
Meela Imperato, vice president of marketing at Seated, discussed how delivery is changing peoples’ eating habits – more people are eating food at home rather than at the restaurant itself.
“Too often you see people eating delicious and beautifully prepared food out of plastic containers,” Imperato said.
Seated is currently active in New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Atlanta, and has previously been active in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Houston, Miami, Austin, Denver, Providence and Seattle.
But Seated is not available for every restaurant in these cities. According to their website, Seated “vets and selects only the best restaurants in each of [their] cities to ensure [the restaurant’s] brand is well represented.”
“It’s a curated platform,” Imperato said, “so we don’t have every restaurant in Boston or New York on the app. We’re very selective with who we include because we want to guarantee users the best possible experience possible.”
David Bettero, general manager of 730 Tavern Kitchen and Patio in Cambridge, said he has seen people making reservations at his restaurants through Seated.
“It is very accurate, they send people here almost every day, about 20 to 30 a week,” Bettero said. “It’s easy for us, they just call, make a reservation. I just get an email later saying that they were here. I don’t even know.”
After two months partnered with Seated, Devin Adams, owner and operator of The Townshend in Quincy, has seen less of a change despite the app’s effortless system. Adams said Seated brought in about $3,000 while in use at The Townshend.
“It’s obviously helpful, but it’s not anything that’s going to make or break us,” Adams said. “In the end it’s a zero-sum game. Thirty percent is all of your margin. If they have a cocktail, we’re not taking a hit on 30 percent of it.”
Devin Dunevant, general manager of Lord Hobo Craft Beer Bar in Cambridge, said he feels the app isn’t doing much for his restaurant.
“The commission that they’ve been taking is not a significant amount of money,” Dunevant said. “But, it’s certainly one of those where if they’re not really increasing the bodies in the door to the degree that we expected, then the amount of money that they are taking isn’t really worth it.”
Nicole Somerstein, a junior in the Questrom School of Business, said she has used Seated to treat herself to a weekly off-campus meal.
“Seated takes away the guilt of spending a little bit of money to have a nice meal outside of the dining hall,” Somerstein said, “because I know that I get a bit of it back.”
Correction: Headline was changed due to not reflecting the content of the article. Previous title read, “Seated app gives Boston diners a discount but may not be good for business.”