Restaurant News & Reviews

Sacramento entrepreneur’s app draws diners in by offering discounts

Sonny Mayugba, who owns The Red Rabbit Kitchen on J Street in Sacramento, came up with the idea for his Requested app on a slow Tuesday afternoon at the restaurant.
Sonny Mayugba, who owns The Red Rabbit Kitchen on J Street in Sacramento, came up with the idea for his Requested app on a slow Tuesday afternoon at the restaurant. Special to The Bee

When local restaurant owner Sonny Mayugba came up with the idea of a phone app that allows merchants to offer discounts during slow hours, he knew he was on to something delicious.

Requested, the free Android and iPhone app, was released in August. Guests can choose from 80 local independently owned and operated restaurants and bars after registering. The same-day bookings can be immediate or saved for a later hour. When guests book, restaurants are alerted. At the end of the meal, servers will charge the total to the card that is on the guest’s Requested file.

Mayugba, 45, said the idea was a product of “two worlds colliding” in 2012. Mayugba attended a tech conference in San Francisco to listen to big-name companies like Google and Groupon talk about the future of marketing for small- to medium-sized businesses.

“I had become a restaurant owner myself. I had worked in and out of restaurants my whole life,” Mayugba said. He said the businesses were “disconnected.”

“It’s totally different when you become an owner,” said Mayugba, who owns The Red Rabbit Kitchen and Bar on J Street.

While sitting in Red Rabbit on a slow Tuesday afternoon, Mayugba said he noticed his bartender cleaning the light bulbs.

“Which is awesome, he was keeping himself busy. But I thought, ‘Man … he would much rather be waiting on customers and getting tips than cleaning lights,’ ” Mayugba said.

Aimal Formoli, owner of Formoli’s Bistro at 39th and J streets in Sacramento, has been a member listed on Requested for less than a year and has “nothing but great things to say” about it.

“Sonny is a good friend of ours. Ever since (Requested) has started rolling out, I’ve noticed nothing but great things. It helps us generate a good amount of people on slow days,” Formoli said.

Mayugba said Requested offers a diverse and dense population of restaurants and bars in the area.

“What’s important for merchants is that we want to connect to the right customers, not just all customers,” Mayugba said. “They may not be the busiest, hottest, hippest restaurants, but they deserve some support. People are going to be wowed when they try these unique places.”

Sonny Mayugba – Requested app

What’s so special: Uber-style app features merchants offering specific discounts for same-day bookings during slow times. Customers can check out deals and book instantly.

The local connection: Sonny Mayugba, Sacramento native and Requested founder, is a local foodie who owns The Red Rabbit Kitchen and Bar on J Street.

Expectations: Mayugba says that Requested plans to expand to Louisiana in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette. Mayugba also hopes to add Dallas; Austin, Texas; Minneapolis; Portland, Ore.; or Seattle to the list.

Quote: “We are really trying to support the ecosystem of the local restaurant bar and cafe space. We want to provide consumers a sense of discovery as well as the joy of not waiting for a check.”

Sonny Mayugba, Requested app founder

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