Pasadenan John Delacruz has three passions: food, bargain-hunting and software development. Lucky for him, he’s found a way to combine them all by joining forces with Pasadena’s Idealab to start FrugalFoodie. A cross between Hotwire and Groupon, this new site and smartphone app saves last-minute diners a considerable amount of money.
Like Hotwire and Priceline, FrugalFoodie is a relatively last-minute app, although instead of offering bargain rates on unsold hotel rooms, it finds you discounts at restaurants that need the business. Here’s how it works: An hour or less before you want to eat, you go on the site or the phone app, choose the neighborhood you’re in and the kind of food you want (American, Thai, sushi, etc.), and FrugalFoodie finds you a bargain—perhaps $24 worth of food and drink for $12. You have five minutes to decide if you want the deal, and then to redeem the coupon, you must arrive within an hour.
Naturally, you’re not going to get a last-minute deal at the hot restaurant that’s always full. But you might find a new place that no one knows about yet, or a sleeper you’ve never tried. While writing this post, I chose Old Pasadena (for now, the only choice) and Thai, and up came a half-price deal at Cha Da Thai. Unfortunately, I’d just eaten dinner, so I can’t report if the place is any good or not, but I know it was a good value.
This is a tech startup, so of course Delacruz’s ambitions are large: first Pasadena, then Southern California, then the whole United States. But for now, it’s just in Pasadena—actually, just Old Pasadena. So it’s ideal for holiday shoppers to find last-minute lunch or dinner bargains. And it’s a chance for us locals to try out a tech startup that might just hit it big—then we can say, when we’re using FrugalFoodie in New York or Seattle, “This app started in my neighborhood!”
Check it out at FrugalFoodie.com.