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We Love Cheap Eats! And Spa Visits and Photoshoots and...

By Anthony Todd in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 13, 2009 7:20PM

Face it - we’re all having trouble convincing ourselves to eat out. Even foodies, accustomed to plunking down way too much money for a few bits of pretty on a plate, have had to cut back. Despite the deals that some Chicago restaurants have been putting out lately, we’ve still been pretty tight fisted - until a friend introduced us to Groupon.

Groupon.jpg Since last November, Groupon has mobilized the power of group consumption to save Chicagoans money. The concept is simple - Groupon negotiates an awesome deal with a business. The business says “we’ll only give you this rate if a certain number of people commit.” Then, the clock starts ticking. If the number of people committed to the Groupon goes above the required level, everyone gets the discount. If not, you aren’t charged. Then, Groupon charges your credit card and sends you the coupon.

We’ve gotten some amazing deals. Last weekend, we ate at Crust in Wicker Park. Groupon sold us a $30 gift certificate for $15 in cash, which covered our entire meal. 500 people signed up for a Groupon at Manny’s Deli, giving each of them a $15 voucher for $5. Right now, Groupon is running a deal for the Smoke Shake in Lincoln Park - a $25 dollar voucher for $10. That’s a lot of BBQ.

Other thing besides food pop up as well. We’ve seen Spa deals, photography studios and local stores. We got a sneak preview of some of the deals for next week: a Tooth Whitening package for $200 (rather than the usual $600) and, our favorite, a $40 voucher for Gejas (reviewed here) for just $19. So, if you're looking for some post-Valentines day romantic dining, sign up for their email list now. Groupon claims to have saved Chicagoans $100,000 in their first three months of operation and based on the deals we’ve seen, we believe it.