Eating out

Finalist
Consumer Products

In 1999, Cary Chessick helped raise money to launch Restaurant.com, with a business plan that included a subscription-based model in which restaurants paid an annual fee in exchange for a priority listing and Web site in the Restaurant.com directory.

Although interested in the concept, restaurants weren’t willing to pay for the service because its operators couldn’t easily quantify how the site would directly translate into profits for the restaurants. And just six months after launch, Chessick was forced to shut down the business when the money ran out.

Chessick pressed on, testing a different concept. He first tried an idea that involved online promotions and gift certificates, using eBay as the delivery vehicle. But while the business was ramping up, he found that the model was not scalable because the company’s marketing strategy and success rested solely in the hands of eBay. Soon after that realization, Chessick shut down the business again in an effort to create a scalable business model.

He relaunched Restaurant.com for a third time, this time as an e-tailer that allowed sales transactions to occur directly from the Restaurant.com site. To increase distribution, he created affiliate relationships with thousands of other Web sites, generated direct sales through the site and started building an e-mail database of consumers for remarketing and promotions. Today, Restaurant.com helps restaurant owners promote their restaurants while providing diners with great value in a fun, new and cost-effective way.

As a result, the business has taken off. In the following years, Chessick launched a business-to-business division, created a gift center and developed a reservation system.

Under Chessick’s leadership, the company’s sales grew by more than 61 percent from 2007 to 2008, with significant profit. In the same period, it went from 150 employees to more than 220. Today, Restaurant.com serves more than 10,000 restaurant partners nationwide and has millions of customers.

For More Information: Restaurant.com, www.restaurant.com