Dining out is rarely a cheap affair, this we all know. If you dine out frequently, for pleasure or business entertaining, the bills will soon pile up.
In the current economic climate this can present a serious problem, unless you either eat in the cheapest places or dine at home. So what do you do?
Luckily Geoff Abbott and Trevor Land have come up with a viable solution for those in need of one. The Gastrocard was launched in the West Midlands only a few years ago and quickly found favour with frequent diners, who were immensely pleased with the prospect of up to 25% off their total bill. Nor was the Gastrocard limited to just a few restaurants, there are several dozen in the Birmingham area alone. Now it is also accepted in a growing number of leisure facilities and tourist attractions.
Their recent innovation is to persuade car dealers to purchase their own branded Gastrocards as a client hospitality ‘lifestyle’ option.
So I caught up with the pair to ask them a few questions:
How did the idea come about?
Trevor Land, ex-Exhibitions manager at the Birmingham NEC, and I both enjoy food and love the West Midlands. We were both fed up with the media saying that the only place for food was in London, and the general poor press that the West Midlands gets.
In fact Birmingham has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other English city outside London and a choice of more than 200 places to dine. Birmingham has plenty of reason to be proud of it’s culinary scene.
This, together with the difficult economic climate, means that restaurants are looking at more ‘bums on eats’ and most individuals and businesses are looking to save money – so why not combine the two?
Who is the Gastrocard initiative aimed at?
It is aimed at local up-market restaurants – we avoid chains such as Pizza Express. We don’t charge the restaurants a penny. It is free but the quid pro quo is that they make an offer of their choosing to Gastrocard members which is NOT available to walk-ins. They can tailor the offer to their quieter shifts – offers range from 10-25% off the food bill, free wine, or 50% off the wine when dining A la Carte. It is finally up to the restaurant. Since we are online the offer can be changed to immediate effect.
Our Revenue comes from sales of Gastrocards to individuals and corporates, membership organisations, etc. These may have their own branded cards.
Has it expanded rapidly?
We now have over three hundred restaurants on board. Most in the wider West Midlands and we are now looking to go national. We have five thousand members, again mostly in the Midlands.
What is your objective for the rest of the year?
To broaden our national coverage through a network of ‘resellers’ and to add the ability for Gastrocard members to make savings on meat, wine and other specialist foods.
Do you plan on international success?
We are certainly considering Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic and the Channel Islands.
Are there any limitations on the card at this time?
We are in the process of being able to offer Gastrocard members savings on meat purchased from Aubrey Allen – voted Chef’s number 1 Butcher, and another 500-600 local specialist food producers spread across the UK. This list will be added to with complimentary products on an ongoing basis.
For more answers please check out their FAQ page by clicking here
I would like to take this opportunity to wish Geoff and Trevor the best of luck and may they bring us cheaper and more frequent dining opportunities in the future.
So please check out http://www.gastrocard.co.uk for special offers at a restaurant near you soon.