CLARKS SUMMIT – Since the middle of last month, some customers at Rosario’s Pizzeria & Ristorante have leaned across the counter with their smartphones and showed the devices, screen-first, to the eatery’s employees. They were not sharing photos or maps, but were redeeming discounts.
Rosario’s is one of 19 local restaurants participating in Spotluck, an app that allows users to receive discounts on their meals. Users “spin” a video wheel which looks like the dial from an old-fashioned rotary telephone. Where that wheel stops is the restaurant at which the user receives the largest discount.
“They have to show us the app and the discount has to be for today,” said Rosario Bevilacqua, the namesake and co-owner of the business. “No screen shots.” It was just after the noontime rush on Friday recently, and Bevilacqua‘s restaurant was emptying as people headed back to work.
Spotluck users can make the spin from anywhere, but can redeem their reward only when at the eatery. Courtesy of GPS, the app knows if a user is inside a particular restaurant.
Metropolitan Scranton is one of 15 regions in the U.S. using Spotluck. Other areas include New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore. The app was launched in February 2015 with a group of restaurants in and around Washington, D.C. Spotluck is free to download and use.
Discounts range from 10 to 35 percent off the bill. They get larger during slow times at a restaurant. A discount on a Wednesday afternoon will be larger than one on a Friday night.
With each spin – the app allows one per day, but there are ways to earn bonus spins – there is a 1 in 19 chance local users will earn a discount to Rosario’s. But discounts still apply no matter which establishment is selected by the wheel.
“You’ll automatically get 10 to 15 percent,” said Bevilacqua, who owns the business with his wife Jessica. “It’s just that if it’s selected by chance, after a spin, that you’ll get a bigger discount.”
Bevilacqua opened the store in May 2011. Sales, he said, had increased every year since he baked his first pizza. He believes there are two reasons for the eatery’s success.
Bevilacqua said he signed a one-year contract with Spotluck. The app company earns money when people redeem the discounts.
“They get a dollar a person,” Bevilacqua explained. “If you come by yourself, they get a dollar. If you come with 10 people, plus you, they get 11 dollars.”
December is always the busiest month of the year at Rosario’s, while January and February are two of the slowest. Bevilacqua hopes Spotluck will spur both existing and new customers to come through the door. Since the other 18 restaurants are mostly in Scranton, users from the south could decide to drive to Clarks Summit when their spins land on Rosario’s.
“Once in a while you have to do something different to bring new people in,” Bevilacqua said