If you’ve walked past Café Muse on Oxford Road you might have seen the little top hat and moustache they’ve drawn on the board that usually advertises rainbow cake. This is the logo of ‘The Dealer’, an app you can download on your iPhone, that will get you various deals on food and drink spots throughout Manchester.
The concept of the Dealer is simple. You pick from the available locations, such as Fallow Cafe or Kro Bar, choose your deal (’50 per cent off coffee’ ‘Free fries with your sandwich’) and then book an e-voucher for up to six people. When paying for your goods, you give your phone to the vendor who types in a code. You’re then given the option to give a little of the money you’ve saved, 50p, to a charity of your choice (currently the choice for Manchester supports the homeless; a great cause in these winter months.)
So, in reviewing this app I set out with a budget of £30, with the intention of eating out as much as possible within the week. Here’s the rundown:
Monday — Tea
The Deal: 50 per cent Off Pizzas at PLY for 2, Northern Quarter
The Fare: A delicious sourdough based Pizza topped with ham, mozzarella and mushrooms at £12.
The Experience: The waitress looked a little confused when I suggested my bill was 50% off; I showed her the app, and she went to chat with someone. She came back with a code, knocking 50% off the pizza. I’d forgotten that drinks didn’t come as part of the deal, and we’d ordered a £2.00 Raspberry Seltzer each (delicious).
The price: The meal came to £5 each, meaning a saving of £3.
Tuesday — Lunch
The Deal: 50 per cent off All Food at KroBar, Oxford Road
The Fare: Tuna melt and a Side of Chips
The Experience: As always with KroBar, nothing’s quite perfect — my sandwich was cold in the middle, but it was decent enough. The Dealer was obviously known to the staff, who instantly knocked 50% off.
The Price: £4.45, saving me £4.45
Wednesday — Tea
The Deal: 50 per cent off food for 2
The Fare: Chicken and Chorizo Quesadillas served with Nachos, guac, salsa and hot cheese. YUM.
The Experience: This popular bar for MMU students has a very relaxed sports vibe. Packed with students, it felt lively, but the food took an age to arrive. The Dealer went down smoothly, once again.
The Price: £7.00 for the two of us, so a saving of £7.00
Thursday — Brunch
The Deal: 50 per cent off Food Foundation
The Fare: Avocado on sourdough with Dukka (my inner white-girl is delighted)
The Experience: Hurried to the nearest Northern Quarter Cafe to warm my frozen hands after a morning of flyering. So flustered when I got to the bar I panic ordered a £5.00 milkshake. £5?! Although, it was delicious.
The Price: £2.50 for the bagel, but £7.50 in total (damn milkshake!)
Thursday — Tea
The Deal: 50 per cent off Grand Daddy’s Diner
The Fare: One whopping cheeseburger — no, seriously, it was the size of two regular ones — and a side of fries
The Experience: Forgot to ask for the deal. Hassle paying. Also forgot to order fries; just a bit of a mess really. But that was on me.
The Price: £5, saving £5
TOTAL COST: £30.45 including three 50p donations to charity (I think — see below). Total Saving: £21.95
All in all, I’m actually amazed by the success of the app. You do, however, get the feeling it’s still in its prototype stages.
There were two hitches; twice I went to bars where the kitchen staff had stopped serving despite the app offering deals at the times we went. That was a little frustrating, but I suspect it’s down to the venue rather than the app — Joshua Brooks and Stage and Radio, shame on you. Perhaps a possible update would be for venues to ‘check in’ so users don’t have to wander round in the cold looking for a place to serve them.
The other thing that confused me was the process of donating to charities — I had assumed that when clicking ‘donate’, the price would be added to my bill. Turns out that isn’t the case. Nevertheless, a few months should give the creators a chance to recognise any design flaws and adapt accordingly.
In fact, in the most recent update of the app, they have made improvements to the donation process and apparently give you a how-to. Next time I use it, I’m sure I’ll appreciate the sense of giving rather than just being slightly confused.
My favourite thing about the app, though, was definitely the fact I’ve discovered so many new places to eat. The deals are particularly beneficial in the city centre, where the price of a meal is so much steeper.
The hipster within likes the fact that, unlike UNiDAYS, the Dealer allows you to get great deals on independent cafes and restaurants, not just Pizza Express and all the chains that the great variety of Manchester allows you to avoid. There are also great perks, such as if you recommend the app to enough friends, you can get £5 to spend at a restaurant. Free cocktail, anyone?
The long and short of it is; you’re a fool if you don’t get this app. You can simultaneously save a bit of dosh, whilst actually giving those pennies to the homeless that you swear you’ll do next time you actually have some change on you — because you just use contactless, now, right? Don’t worry, I feel your pain. You can explore Manchester’s exciting independent scene too — what more could you want?
Plus you can make the joke about just checking with your dealer.
The Dealer is available now on the App Store.