Meal deals worth it for restaurants? It depends

Restaurant operators are split on the value of daily deal discounts, according to a study by Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration.

These deals, typically offered online, let people buy merchandise, a service or food at a deep discount, often half price.

A survey of 273 restaurateurs who had offered daily deals revealed that only 40 percent of deal purchasers were new customers, according to Cornell researchers Joyce Wu and Sheryl E. Kimes in Ithaca, N.Y., and Utpal Dholakia of Rice University in Houston.

That means 60 percent of deal users were existing customers, so the discounts took the place of full-price sales for these customers, the researchers said.

But some central Ohio restaurant owners and operators think the discount coupons they sell through Groupon or LivingSocial offer them more positives than negatives.

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