Not Your Grandfather’s Expense Account Dining

Not long after David Pogrebin joined Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Marlin Bar in New York City as General Manager, he was eyeing the P&L statement and noticed an unfamiliar line for guest acquisitions that prompted some investigation. Pogrebin discovered he had inherited a partnership with Dinova, a company that focuses on connecting expense account diners to restaurants nationwide.

“As an operator, it’s win-win-win situation,” Pogrebin told Modern Restaurant Management magazine. “I’ve found the more I spend on Dinova, the more guests spend here at Tommy Bahama. Expense account diners have high check averages and Dinova makes the process simple for staff and guests because there are no special procedures.”

David Pogrebin
David Pogrebin

In fact, guests from Dinova’s client network spend 68 percent more on average than regular guests, according to Dinova founder and CEO Vic Macchio.  

“Restaurants need people to come in and that is the challenge and gap we try to fill for the business dining segment,” Macchio told MRM. “Dinova provides a truly seamless and discreet dining experience. We have a growing network featuring all cuisine types and all price points. Fast causal, fine dining, QSR are all represented and local is as important as the big chains.”

Dinova, has a 13,000-plus restaurant network and surpasses $4 billion in dining spend influence working with companies that range in size from SMBs to Fortune 100. The firm recently launched myDinova, a rewards program exclusively for corporate employees where business diners can earn personal rewards for their business meals and entertainment expenses.

Being the Midtown Manhattan flagship Tommy Bahama restaurant targets business professionals with its emphasis on quality, yet unpretentious dining, Pogrebin believes the MyDinova rewards program will be a selling point when booking private parties and filling seats during mid-week slower times.

“There are numerous ways we see leveraging our relationships with Dinova,” he said. “It’s a fabulous relationship.”

Business spending in restaurants increased 7.1 percent in 2015, with a 4.5 percent growth in transactions and average check values up 3.75 percent over 2014, according to Dinova.

“We cultivate the corporate channel,” said Macchio. “They don’t have to leave money on the table. Business dining will always be important for restaurants and the climate is doing quite well now. I see blue skies ahead for restaurants that understand the unquestionable value business diners bring, and how to leverage Dinova as the channel to access them.”

Vic Macchio
Vic Macchio