There’s a new club in town designed to save its members money when dining while simultaneously helping local restaurants and nonprofits grow based on the pay it forward concept.
Gator communications and journalism graduate, turned bar tender, turned night club manager, turned lawyer, turned legal continuing education director, turned night club investor Roger Curlin partnered with Jack Homsey to design the club based on what they learned while involved with a national member dining club that failed.
“The national company had some details they had missed … but the core idea of a member dining club was too good to walk away,” says Curlin.
They built a business plan, ran it past restaurant owners, consultants and anyone that wanted to take a shot at it.
“Nobody really could, so we figured, ‘Hey, we might have something here,” he adds. Then they found backers.
The concept seems simple at first glance. Members pay $29.95 a month to join and they and a guest get half off their entrees and their first alcohol drink at any of the now 32 participating restaurants they call destina- tions. And you can do it as many times a day, week or month as you want, even at the same location as long as there are at least three hours between visits. There is no contract, no cancellation fee, no blackout dates, and it’s easy for snowbirds to freeze their accounts.
If the savings aren’t enough, prospective members may want to consider the philanthrop- ic, support local businesses aspect of the club–here is where it gets somewhat complicated.
Restaurants that want to participate are encouraged to partner with area nonprofits if they don’t already.
“They don’t have to, but we want partners, we want destinations that work with charities and that are socially responsible. We want part- ners that like to be involved in the communi- ty,” says Curlin. He even checks lobby walls to see if a restaurant is supporting local teams or has won awards for community work.
Russel Andrade, “Lord & Master” of the four-month old Iberian Rooster was already supporting some nonprofits when he was approached to join Club Savor and partner with Remember • Honor • Support (RHS).
“I don’t want to be a season restaurant and I feel if I invest in the community, they will invest in me. It becomes a healthy relation- ship,” Andrade says about his motivation.
A potential member can join the club via the RHS website and both entities benefit.
“When destinations form that relationship with a charity, they give the revenue they would’ve received (for member signups) during the first month to the charity,” adds Curlin.
Club directors like John Rosario are basically an extension of the destination’s marketing effort.
“I work with them with for everything they need to partner with a nonprofit, creating events, bringing more people to their destination, providing value. Restaurateurs don’t have time to network, they don’t have time to get out in the com- munity, so I play that centerpiece part for them.” “You can’t, as a charity or civic organiza- tion, be constantly asking for money,” adds Curlin. “We look to set up programs for our destinations and our charities that lets that out- reach happen, that lets revenue and funding
come in, and we are able to do it cyclically.”
They only approach local, independent restaurants for potential membership. Curlin says with 2,500 restaurants in Pinellas County plus the “big one”–the kitchen, there is lots of competition out there and local, independents have a real challenge.
After four months, they have more than 400 club members and hope to have 50 restaurant destinations by the end of summer. They also plan to add other categories like beauty, travel and entertainment, and to expand geographically.
Their motto is, “Enjoy More” and, based on member feedback, they may expand it to include “Explore More.” Members tend to try new restaurants or try a new selection at estab- lishments they frequent. And patrons often order more than they would normally because they are saving money.
“Helping our destinations become bigger and more profitable and helping charity is the engine that people can use to grow. It’s a win, win,” adds Curlin.
For more information go to www.clubsavor.com.