Friday, January 07, 2011

Casual Dining and Websites

As part of America's tradition of New Year's resolutions, I joined thousands of Americans in trying to drop a few pounds this year. In addition to the 70+ miles on the bike on my commute each week, I am trying to eat a little better. One place a coworker, Alison, turned me on to was Mixt Greens, a salad place extraordinaire.

I enjoyed a heck of a repast, and after, I wondered just how nutritious my meal was, so, just on a whim, I headed over to their site. Buried under a small tab marked Nutrition Info, I saw this amazing calculator, allowing me to see the exact details of what I just consumed. Not just the prepacked pieces; the very meal I had custom made for me. It's powered by a company called FoodCALC, and they have partnered with several restaurant chains to do this.

Why I think it's brilliant is that Casual Dining places usually struggle for a good reason to drive people online, or vice-versa. The occasional loyalty card does it, as do coupons, but this gives an extremely personal connection that they can use to expand. By building passionate customers, they build long term customers, and they can add to that relationship to add products that make sense, and have their customers use social networks to get more expansion...etc.

My lunch options are literally nearly 100 within 3 blocks of my office. This feature will definitely influence my next choice of location when I'm looking for a tasty salad. Oh, yeah: it was damned good, too. :-)

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