One of the worst kept secrets in the ‘get a great deal’ on dining out has been Restaurant.com.  This site has been one of my favorites for years.

With the site, you can buy a coupon that gives you a dollar amount off participating restaurants.  Typically, you can get a $10 coupon for $3 or a $25 for $10, with each restaurant choosing the terms by which you can use the coupons (some won’t allow you to use them on weekend nights or on holidays or unless your party consists of a certain number of people).  The great part about it is that you can typically find a coupon code for 80%, and sometimes even 90%, off the regular price of a certificate.

This means that you could get a $10 coupon for $0.60 or a $25 coupon for $2 with the most commonly found 80% off coupon.

It’s practically a steal!

I’ve noticed, though, that over the past few months, a few restaurants have the stipulation “Promo Codes Do Not Apply.”

Sure enough, if you add that coupon to your shopping cart and enter a promo code, you don’t get anything off.

I wasn’t able to find much information about why some restaurants are excluded.  I’m not sure if the restaurants get a better rate for not participating or how the participation structure breaks down.

At first glance, it’s easy to say “Well, I’m not paying five times more for a certificate” and move on.  And, that’s certainly a valid option.  If you’re browsing Restaurant.com and you’re wavering between two restaurants, one that you can use a promo code and one that you can’t, my guess is the one that allows you to use to code will win 99% of the time.

So, why would you buy a coupon at a restaurant that doesn’t allow you to use codes.  Here’s a few reasons I can think of.

  1. You didn’t even know about the 80% off regular codes
  2. It’s your favorite restaurant
  3. It’s still a better percentage off (60 or 70%) than most Groupon or Living Social deals, which from what I’ve been able to see, give you 50-55% off in most cases.

Would the cutbacks on promo code availability cause you to stop using Restaurant.com or would you narrow down your list of potential restaurants to those which are not on the ‘restricted’ list?