By Sue Botos
Westshore – Foodies looking for a great dinner or the best happy hour in town no longer have to scroll through dozens of online restaurant listings looking for something to tempt their taste buds or find a good deal.
Now, thanks to Lakewood resident Lauren Kluth, there’s an app for that.
Kluth, a 2009 graduate of St. Joseph Academy, has been named one of the school’s 2017 “25 Under 35” (an annual honor for 25 younger-than-age-35 graduates of distinction) for her creation of CLESeats, (www.cleseats.com), a website and free mobile app that provides Clevelanders with exclusive discounts and daily specials at top eateries throughout the Cleveland area.
CLESeats, launched in February of 2016, was named Scene Magazine’s startup business of the year.
Moving to Chicago after graduation from John Carroll University, Kluth realized it could be a hassle to plan a night on the town.
“There was just no easy way to book reservations. You had to visit so many different sites,” recalled Kluth.
After Kluth returned home to Cleveland, she decided to sink her teeth into the idea of a restaurant discount app. “I didn’t know if it was going to be the biggest waste or not,” said Kluth.
The outcome? “I was shocked at how well it did,” Kluth admitted. She was able to attract 20 top area restaurants like Fahrenheit in Ohio City to her initial rollout, and now offers food specials and discounts from over 40 area eateries. “They’re mostly in Ohio City, Cleveland and Lakewood, but I want to expand into Rocky River and other Northeast Ohio cities,” said Kluth, noting that one of her newest clients is the popular Sweet Melissa in Rocky River.
Kluth describes her enterprise as a combination of Yelp-styled profiles of restaurants and discount offers, which range from 15 to 20 percent off of a meal or entire bill, free appetizers and drink specials. “It’s not just a one and done,” said Kluth, adding that once the discounts are downloaded on a customer’s mobile device, they can be used multiple times with no expiration date.
An estimated 30,000 people have signed on to CLESeats, according to Kluth. If she had any further doubts about the popularity of her app, she only had to throw a one year anniversary party in February in the Flats. All 600 available tickets were quickly snapped up, Kluth reported.
Currently a “one woman show,” with Kluth handling publicity and all other aspects of the business herself, she said she relies on social media and events like hosting happy hours at member restaurants to get the word out.
Aside from making a night on the town easier to negotiate, Kluth has a deeply personal reason for creating CLESeats. The enterprise is dedicated to the memory of Dana Care, Kluth’s best friend through grade school and high school, who lost her two-year battle with cancer in 2009, just short of graduation from St. Joe’s.
“I always wanted to do something in her name,” said Kluth. In honor of her friend, Kluth said her business raises awareness of the Thousand Locks Charity, (www.thousandlockscharity.com), which helps woman and children with cancer receive free wigs.
What’s in the future for CLESeats? “I want to expand all over Northeast Ohio,” said Kluth, who admitted she even has her sights set on other burgeoning urban restaurant scenes in Columbus, Cincinnati or even Detroit. “I’m always open to suggestions. They’re helpful and make me learn.”