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BlackboardEats, Deal Site for Foodies, Launches Today

By Anthony Todd in Food on Jul 21, 2011 3:00PM

2011_7_21BlackBoardEats.jpg Louisa Chu, Editor of BlackboardEats Chicago, has had a busy month. First, she takes over as Vocalo's new food blogger, then she helps to launch a deal website. Even better, this deal website isn't your average Groupon/Living Social/Whatever knockoff - it's actually good. On BlackboardEats, users can find deals (not a million of them, just a couple per week) at restaurants that have never run deals before. Even better, the watchword of the business is "sustainable" - not "exploitative."

Once you subscribe to BlackboardEats, you will receive emails with a few deals. They are very well-curated, and designed to really entice the serious food-lover. None of the "50% off at a pub you've never heard of and that will be out of business in six months" silliness here - these are clients that have turned down every other offer. The first deal? A special, fixed-price, miracle-berry meal at iNG. Previously, iNG only offered miracle-berry menus at their chef's table, where prices ranged higher than we want to think about. Now, for $60, you can get a 5-course meal that includes two drinks. If you've been waiting to try iNG, now is the time.

Indeed, overcoming "diner apathy" is one of Chu's biggest goals. You know diner apathy; it's what happens when you've heard about a restaurant but never get around to going, when a place is "on your list." Usually, by the time you get there, it's out of business. Well, Chu hopes these deals will be enough to get you out of your seat and into some new establishments. Right now, you can also get 30% off at the Spice House - is that enough to convince you to buy some decent herbs? Next week's deal is for Calumet Fisheries, hardly a failing business, but one that many people haven't visited because of the distance.

Even better, BlackboardEats doesn't get any revenue at all from the restaurant. Unlike Groupon, which takes much of the money you pay for the coupon, you don't pay BlackboardEats a penny. You simply sign up, get a code, and arrange the deal with the restaurant. BlackboardEats gets its money from advertising and sponsorship. Even better, they've got real, respected writers doing the editorial copy - and it's not in the "Groupon voice." The deals are simple - either 30% off, or a special, pre-set option, like the iNG dinner.

Chu said that the reason many of the clients agreed to work with BlackboardEats was because of her reputation. Formerly the Chicago correspondent for Gourmet Magazine, judge on Iron Chef American, and respected food writer, Chu "grew up in the restaurant business" and restaurants know that she isn't going to try to screw them over. "We want to make sure that this is a sustainable model," emphasized Chu over and over again. "These restaurants don't need to do these deals." Sign up for their email list now - the site launched today.