Entirely East Lansing
A new smartphone application called Hooked is new to East Lansing and it’s helping residents save cash while dining out. The application can be downloaded for free from any mobile device’s application store. All a customer has to do to is show up at the restaurant with the temporary deal, and show the employee the application’s current deal to score discounts and free food.
Hooked deals are only available in East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Champaign, Illinois; Austin, Texas, and Madison, Wisconsin. It has gained its greatest level of popularity amongst college students in East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Austin and Madison. The app has been ranked number 1 at the major universities in those three cities and has reached a total of 30,000 downloads, according to Hooked’s official website.
“It’s really awesome, like, a lot of people eat out, so whenever there’s deals you kind of have a choice of where to go eat,” said MSU civil engineering major Nick Tower, a Hooked user. “It’s really nice to see all these options and not have to pay full price.”
The application is not only an opportunity to save money, but Hooked also hires students for advertising and marketing.
“We started in East Lansing about six weeks ago and we’re just shy of (having reached) 9,000 students,” said MSU advertising and public relations major Forrest O’Brien, a Hooked student representative. “So we’re growing pretty rapidly, which is cool. We’ve had some really successful events. Like at Cold Stone where we gave out 360 scoops of ice cream with a line out the door.”
As a business that runs on giving away food, some consumers have wondered how the restaurants benefit at all.
“We don’t charge the businesses anything for our promotions, so it’s free for them to sign up. Our form of payment is once a semester when we have Free Food of the Week events. Businesses [that use] cheap ingredients, we can give it away for free,” said O’Brien.
With discounts “we’re trying to get users the price of their food for how much it costs the company to make it. So the company is not losing money, because in return, they’re getting so many new customers. It’s like an advertising expense with a much stronger impression.”
Some of the restaurants that offer East Lansing Hooked deals are Potbelly, Pita Pit, Goombas Pizza, Firehouse Subs, Pizza House, Black Cat Bistro, Cottage Inn Pizza, The Peanut Barrel, Bell’s Greek Pizza, Noodles & Co. and Georgio’s Pizza. Hooked works with 300 local restaurants nationally and it’s free for companies to sign up, according to O’Brien.
Hooked has discounts and deals all day, every day that are valid for 1 to 3 hours. Hooked will send a message to your phone in the case of a local “insane deal events.” Georgio’s Pizza is a regular on the app, frequently offering cheese pizza silences for 50 cents for a 3-hour window.
Maria Hruska is a Georgio’s employee of 12 years and the sister to the owner of the pizzeria. The restaurant has just started working with Hooked and Hruska said business has improved.
“It’s been really good, we have gotten a lot more traction. We have kids coming in and saying they wouldn’t have come in if it wasn’t for the app, so it’s been good,” said Hruska. “I would tell [other businesses] to give it a try and do it. It’s definitely helped. We get a discount and it’s good for us, too, and good for the customers.”