OPINIONMarketing

How Lettuce Entertain You created its new app

Marketing Bites: Plus, Applebee’s wants to be a date-night destination and Taco Bell readies for a grande announcement.
Lettuce Entertain You app
Multi-concept operator Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises is rolling out a new app that's focused on personalization. | Photo courtesy of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises
Marketing Bites

Chicago-based multi-concept operator Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE) has had an app since 2015. But it became clear in the last couple of years that it was badly in need of an upgrade, according to CMO Jennifer Bell.

LEYE operates about 110 concepts in multiple states, and they’ve undergone a “digital transformation” in the years since the app launched. The company shifted to Toast for its POS, joined OpenTable for reservations and partnered with DoorDash for delivery.

“I’ll be honest with you, before we had people using three or four different reservation systems and three or four different online ordering portals,” Bell said. “And for me to develop things within the app is just next to impossible. And we were just ad hocking all of these things to try and make it work and it really didn’t.”

LEYE’s new app remains a work in progress, with some new features still to be rolled out this year. But the new creation is focused on relaying personalized information for Lettuce’s very engaged base of diners. More than half a million people have engaged with the company’s loyalty program over its history and the previous app had about 200,000 users, Bell said.

“What we wanted to do now is say, ‘Hey, this is all about you,’” she said. “You know, ‘Here’s how many reward dollars you have. Here’s how many visits.’ You can favorite your restaurants.”

The restaurant company has in-house developers but also worked with outside consultants on the new app. 

LEYE diners can make reservations, order food for delivery, view their gift cards and other rewards, buy gift cards and, soon, purchase other restaurant merchandise like tableware, clothing, candles and more.

Bell’s team is fanning out to LEYE’s locations around the country to talk to servers about the new app, so they can communicate the new features to customers. The operator will also spread the word via check presenters.

Diners in their 40s and above have been reliable app users, Bell said. Capturing the younger generation, though, is a bit trickier.

“Gen Z. I know email is not going to work with this group. I know that this app is not going to work with this group,” Bell said. “And I know that we have to be more innovative. We are on TikTok. We are on social media … But I haven’t cracked the code. It’s something I’m hyper focused on. But I don’t have the answers yet.”

Applebee’s launches Date Night Pass

The venerable casual-dining chain already bills itself as the “No. 1 date night spot in America,” so it may come as little surprise that Applebee’s is looking to capitalize on that occasion. The chain on Wednesday announced a $200 Date Night Pass, valid 52 times from Feb. 1 until Jan. 31, 2025, that offers a discount of up to $30 on food and non-alcoholic beverages per use. (That appears to be a $1,560 value, though math has never been my strong suit.)

A limited number of the passes go on sale Monday at noon ET.

May the odds be forever in your favor and may you find a date who really, really, really likes Applebee’s.

Taco Bell gets ready for the spotlight

Apple does it. Car makers do it. The big tech conferences do it.

So, why shouldn’t a restaurant chain known for its chalupas and gorditas host an over-the-top live event to launch new products?

Enter Taco Bell’s Live Mas Live event slated for Feb. 9 in Las Vegas, in which the fast-food brand will “unveil a year’s worth of innovative products and iconic partnerships” along with musical performances, celebrity appearances and more.

The event will be livestreamed, but you’ve got to be a Taco Bell Rewards Member to access the stream. Viewers will also get a look inside Taco Bell’s test kitchen, while attendees will be among the first to sample upcoming new menu items, the chain said.

Wonder if folks will camp out for a chance to try a new taco like they do to get their hands on the latest iPhone?

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