Throw away that pile of takeout menus you've collected over years of late-night cravings -- Living Social is now your delivery man.
The deal site's new Takeout & Delivery service, announced Thursday, is putting virtual menus for thousands of restaurants in the hands of customers across the country. Now, satisfying your fix for pizza or Chinese food can be done with the click of a button.
By going online or using Living Social's mobile app, users enter their city, indicate "takeout" or "delivery" and browse restaurant menus that fit what they're looking for, clicking on items to select them for order. You can also search by cuisine type and even indicate what time you'd like to pick up your food or have it delivered.
"It's about using technology for what is a slightly more elegant experience than picking up the phone and calling," says Greg Mazanec, general manager of Takeout & Delivery.
Mazanec says the new food service bypasses what is usually a "pretty friction-laden experience" that can involve waiting on the phone when a restaurant is busy, reciting your credit card number over the phone and confirming your address "again and again."
Takeout & Delivery is a further development of Living Social's instant deals service, which lets users search for deals available in real time, such as $10 for $15 worth of food at a local restaurant as long as you redeem the deal within three hours. The instant technology will now be used primarily for the takeout and delivery service, but customers also have the option of buying "dine-in specials" redeemable immediately and for a limited time.
Living Social began testing Takeout & Delivery in the Washington, D.C., area in November, and it's now available in 26 markets, including San Francisco, Chicago, Houston and Boston. It will eventually roll out to all Living Social "instant" markets nationwide, including New York City and Los Angeles.
California Tortilla, a Tex-Mex restaurant in D.C.'s Chinatown that was part of Living Social's test market, experienced a record number of lunch orders through Takeout & Delivery when the service officially launched Thursday.
"Our typical lunch hour is busy as it is," says Jesse Mencow, restaurant manager. "But to be able to supplement it with these orders really helps build up our numbers."
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