Groupon officially jumped into the restaurant delivery game on Thursday, offering 10 percent off every order in Chicago from national chains such as Quiznos, Popeyes, Subway and Papa John's, as well as Windy City eateries like Ditka's, Al's Beef, Star of Siam, and Wishbone.
"It's an indefinite promotion," Groupon spokesperson Nicholas Halliwell said. "For right now, the restaurants are doing the deliveries, but we do plan to offer delivery fulfillment services at a later date."
The development comes after the company's six-week-old acquisition of OrderUp, a Baltimore-based startup that operates in its hometown, Denver and several small cities with large student populations. Halliwell said OrderUp will continue to operate as a standalone brand in those markets, while Groupon will leverage the subsidiary's technology to facilitate deliveries in bigger cities.
Its service, dubbed Groupon To Go, will expand this fall to Boston and Austin, Texas, before entering other locales. So Groupon isn't exactly trying to take the delivery space by storm, though the likes of GrubHub Inc.—which owns both GrubHub and Seamless—and Yelp-owned Eat24 will surely take notice.
Groupon To Go will be incorporated into Groupon's massive email program as well as its mobile app, which has been downloaded 105 million times worldwide.
The Wall Street investor crowd has been wary of the company's growth potential in recent years, therefore its delivery play could be crucial to perceptions about its future financial viability. Groupon To Go has been beta-tested since March by 500 Chicago restaurants, and Groupon takes a commission on every order placed through the platform.
For the official, larger foray into the City of the Big Shoulders, it's running a promotion through Aug. 6, featuring legendary Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka.
Participants are encouraged to humorously explain—in 140 characters or less—why the former coach should personally deliver a complimentary catered lunch from his namesake restaurant to their office. The winner will win a free lunch for up to 50 of his or her coworkers.