by Bruce Rutledge,
The crush of new ramen restaurants in Seattle and the Eastside is stoking competition to get customers in the seats. Santouka at University Village has come up with a novel campaign to lure families in for a steaming bowl of noodles: Sign up for its free business loyalty plan, called Belly, and your children will get a free kids’ ramen Monday through Thursday from now until December 28 anytime you dine there.
Santouka operates a Bellevue store as well, but this offer is only valid at the U Village outlet.
The Belly business customer loyalty program takes the place of punch cards for many businesses these days and is free for customers to join. Customers can sign up at Santouka and be eligible for the free ramen on the spot.
Once you’ve signed up for Belly, you’ll get promotional offers via email from time to time. Restaurants can also track your visits and your preferred menu items. At Santouka, a little robot known as Sota, who doubles as a maitre de, makes suggestions to Belly members based on their past orders.
Belly allows restaurants to customize offers. However, Belly points are tied to the businesses where you earn them. For example, if you have 100 Belly points at Santouka, you can’t exchange that for a latte at your local coffee shop. Still, if you know you’ll be frequenting a specific restaurant, it may make sense to join.