Dineline wants to revolutionize how we eat out, but can it?

Dineline wants to revolutionize how we eat out, but can it?

The premise behind the new bargain-hunting Web site Dineline.ca is an interesting one: rather than simply offering notifications on sales and specials at restaurants, its focus is on “off-the-cuff” or one-time deals. The idea is to help famished deal seekers spot resto bargains in real time. A restaurant happens to be in possession of food that could go bad unless cooked immediately? Dineline is there, ideally offering it up for a greatly reduced price. A restaurant wants to spice up an unusually slow day by offering an impromptu sale. Dineline is there, too.

Basically, this is Priceline for food. But does it work?

Dineline’s organizers are hyperbolically optimistic, heralding their site as “the end of empty tables and empty stomachs.” In theory, probably not. And in practice, not so much, either. At least not yet. So far, Dineline is simply a food-oriented Twitter feed, and the latest entry is two days old. So much for real time.

A quick perusal of the deals offers nothing out of the ordinary. So far, it seems to be a bulletin board for various restaurants to post standard deals on chicken wings and buffets, or to showcase their prix fixe menus. There’s no immediate sign of saving 25 to 50 per cent on our favorite meals, as Dineline advertises, and we’re not sure how it reached that number anyway. Among the participating restaurants are Brass Taps, Izmi Sushi, Fred’s Not Here and Café Diplomatico.

Still, the intention is a noble one. Toronto does, after all, waste over 210 million kilograms of food per year, most of it edible, according to the Toronto Star. It would be nice if some of the restaurant industry’s contribution to that number could be reduced through the powers of the Internet. But isn’t over-ordering a sign of poor management? Aren’t desperately slow days something few restaurants would want to showcase?

It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out. Stay tuned.