Hearst Interactive Media is investing in VillageVines, as part of the restaurant deal site’s $3 million first round. With VillageVines, members find a high-end restaurant and pay $10 to reserve a table; a 30 percent discount is then “discreetly” applied to their bill when they attend. The six-month old service is being used by “hundreds” of restaurants in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C.
The number (and visibility) of deal-like services is growing seemingly by the day, but, in the company’s announcement, Hearst Interactive Media president Ken Bronfin calls VillageVines “unique” in a “market where consumers and restaurants are being peppered by dozens of daily deal offerings.”
Indeed, VillageVines sounds like a cross between OpenTable (in that it can be used to make reservations) and Groupon (in that members receive big discounts). It’s also being marketed to restaurants as a more controlled way to advertise themselves than daily deal, because restaurants can control how many discounted tables they make available and when.
VillageVines says it will use the new cash in part to expand into additional cities in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to Hearst, GrandBanks Capital and High Peaks Venture Partners also participated in the funding round. The company had previously raised $750,000 in seed funding.