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Chilly Chi-town Chowdown Rewards App

A Dining Rewards program App that rewards customers for dining outdoors by accumulating points that turn into cash to use at restaurants

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Idea Title

Chilly Chi-Town Chowdown Rewards App

Company / organization name (if applicable)


Website (if applicable)


Please include a visual representation of your concept, including but not limited to images, diagrams, or 2D / 3D graphics

This a quick sketch of what the rewards app could look like. I would add Chicago flag themed graphics & colors to make it visually appealing. It would be a simple & user friendly interface that is easy to navigate & learn.

Solution Overview

I got the idea for the point rewards program to incentivize customers to eat outside by rewarding them for it from the highly successful “Frequent Diners Program” App that local Chicago restaurant group LettuceEntertainYou has successfully used for many years. People will want to eat outdoors in the winter, if they are rewarded for it by accumulating points in the app that turn into cash back to use towards a future outdoor restaurant visit. This type of marketing strategy motivates outdoor winter dining & create repeat customers. 

The App’s point structure could look like this: 

1 point per dollar spent 

50 points equals a $5 reward 

100 points equals a $10 reward

Cash Rewards Can be redeemed at any restaurant participating in the rewards program. 


This cash back rewards program structure would require generous donations from corporations & individuals who would fund the rewards money that app users would accumulate for dining outdoors in the winter. Having it funded by charitable donations would take financial burdens off restaurants & drive much needed business during the Covid crisis. 

Technical Overview

Here is a rough & quick sketch of what the Chilly Chi-town Chowdown App could look like. Designing the app should be fairly simple. 


The app should be free to download on all smart phones so it’s accessible to more people.


This a quick sketch of what the rewards app could look like. I would add Chicago flag themed graphics & colors to make it visually appealing. It would be a simple & user friendly interface that is easy to navigate & learn. 

User Research

The Chilly Chi-Town Chowdown App point rewards program incentivizes customers to eat outside by rewarding them. I was inspired by the  “Frequent Diners Program” App that Chicago restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You has successfully used for years. I’d have Holiday promos like “12 Days of Christmas” double points & Double Point Snow Day Mondays. Holiday promos that build points encourage business during the slowest, coldest season in January.

Covid-19 Safety

The Chilly Chi-Town Chowdown app requires absolutely no tactile interaction between customer & restaurant employees. Customers check-in on the app when they eat outdoors & present their server with a unique numerical code that allows the server to add points to the customer’s account. There is no touch or shared surfaces between employee & customer, which will slow the spread. It’s sort of like the QR menus that are being used. 

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

I’m a Chicagoan with a background in cultural journalism, who is passionate about the amazing food scene here & would like to do anything to help our local restaurants thrive this winter. Chicago’s restaurants are true gems & cultural institutions of our great city. My father is a restaurant owner in Texas which has informed my passion for America’s restaurants. Food & dining out are part of our cultural experience & restaurants are places where we connect over the universal language of food.

Please describe your legal or organizational structure

N/A I’m a Chicago resident.

In what city are you / your team located?

Chicago, Illinois

In what country are you / your team located?

United States

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • In the news


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