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LivingSocial launches online restaurant ordering, delivery service

November 15, 2011 | 12:40 pm

Daily deals website LivingSocial is starting to offer online restaurant ordering and delivery options, venturing into territory dominated by businesses such as GrubHub and Snapfinger.

The service is rolling out initially as a test in LivingSocial’s Washington, D.C., hometown. Users there will be able to order food from their computer or smartphone and either have it delivered or waiting for pickup at the restaurant without the hassle of a long line.

Users will at first have access to more than 70 restaurants, some of which also offer discounts through LivingSocial.

Mobile food ordering is picking up in the restaurant industry.

New San Francisco Bay Area grilled cheese start-up the Melt, launched by Flip Video founder Jonathan Kaplan, allows customers to order online and then collect their food by scanning a QR code at the counter.

The GrubHub website, founded in 2004, features menus from partner restaurants. Customers can click to order remotely, with prompts for side dishes and topping options.

Snapfinger, also founded in 2004, has a similar format. Real-time menus from chains such as Boston Market and California Pizza Kitchen omit items that the restaurants have run out of; Snapfinger also informs diners of order backlogs and pickup times.

LivingSocial is also offering a new feature called Room Service, which the company says will involve limited “white glove” delivery from higher-end eateries.

Available for now only in downtown D.C. on Thursday and Friday nights, the service will feature a prix fixe menu from one new restaurant each week. LivingSocial staff will handle the deliveries, which includes “high-quality tableware, dining accessories, top-shelf presentation of food and a special after-dinner treat,” the company said.


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Some restaurants serve up iPads for customers to place orders

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times