Serving up rewards: Louisville Originals' card offers points for dining
Originally begun as a marketing consortium of local independent restaurants that sold gift certificates online every three months, the Louisville Originals program is now best known for its rewards program that enters its fifth year giving 22,554 cardholders credits at member eateries.
“I think we were very hopeful” that the local marketing program would take off, board secretary Kerry DeMuth said, “but you have no way of knowing in these types of things.”
While Louisville Originals has gift certificate programs as well, “I think the rewards (card) programs would be, by far and away, the most popular with customers,” said Siobhan Reidy, an Originals co-founder who owns the Irish Rover restaurants with her husband Michael Reidy.
For every dollar spent at one of the restaurants, card holders get one point. At 150 points, card holders gt a $10 gift certificate — maintained on the card — to use at any of the restaurants. Double points are offered the first Tuesday of the month. There is a 500 point cap for any one visit and no more than $100 in credits can be redeemed by any one person in a visit.
Cards also can be used in other cities at selected restaurants, originalrestaurants.com.
Besides the reward program, the Louisville Originals sells a limited number of discount gift certificates at its website, louisvilleoriginals.com once every three months, some of which are snatched up with in minutes and nearly all of which are gone within a day. The next such sale is Jan. 15.
Louisville Originals also sells gift cards, which are available online, at ValuMarket stores and downtown at the Louisville Visitors Center. In 2010 and 2011, $296,000 was put on the cards each year and DeMuth said she hopes the group passed $300,000 last year.
It’s also popular with restaurant owners, she said. “We see a good percentage of our sales on any given night coming from rewards customers.”
Last year, Louisville Originals, which was founded in 2005, added Bluegrass Brewing Co., bringing its membership to 28 restaurants that now have 37 locations.
“It was always founded on the idea of finding ways to market ourselves more effectively, more efficiently, to kind of band together and hopefully get more marketing power in the way that the chains have the marketing power that an independent can’t afford,” Siobhan Reidy said.
Membership has varied, running roughly from between 35 and 50 locations, but organizers say that has stabilized around 40. DeMuth said two or three new restaurants could be added by month’s end.
DeMuth said the rewards card, which can be obtained at member restaurants and is operated by a vendor, benefited from the base recognition and loyalty that the Louisville Originals had built up before for the program started.
“We thought we’d only sell them at Christmas time,” she said.