Erick Estrada, the executive director of the Alberta Avenue Business Association, has 68 restaurants in his purview. Almost all of them are family owned spots that don’t have the kind of dollars needed to come up with savvy marketing schemes or develop loyalty programs, like the big chains.
So, the alternative for these small spots is to keep getting by on word of mouth, or to pool their resources. Could an app that celebrated all of the restaurants on the Avenue be a solution? Certainly, no app can save the world, but the creation of a local app that would feature restaurants from the neighbourhood would at least give them one of the tools that bigger restaurants and chains have at their disposal.
“We had to find a way for our small businesses to be able to connect with customers digitally,” Estrada said.
The Alberta Avenue Dining Pass, which is an app that can be downloaded via Google or Apple, was recently launched. On its debut, it got 200 subscribers, said Estrada — and he said that’s a hopeful sign of better things to come. It currently features 10 Alberta Avenue eateries, including Battista’s Calzone, Mona Lisa Pub, Green Onion Cake Man, Paraiso Tropical, Mama Asha Cafe and Coliseum Steak & Pizza. Estrada says the plan is to add 10 more restaurants to the app every month, until all 68 restaurants are included.
“Hopefully, there’s a platform there for everyone,” said Estrada.
The app lists local restaurants and what they offer, and if there are any special deals available at those places. But Estrada said the AABA is open to any suggestions from its members on how it can be improved. If you go to “great food experiences” section, each of the 10 restaurants gets a paragraph to describe itself, along with contact info and some images of the food on offer.
This is an app that is very much in its infancy — but it’s about empowering small businesses.
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