Picks and Pans Review: Net Worth
FEASTING FROM AFAR
Some appetizing Internet sites have sprung up lately, giving new meaning to the term "pull-down menu." The largest is the Diners' Grapevine, offering menus from more than 6,000 restaurants in the U.S. and 800 overseas, plus photos of many dining rooms. "The idea was to let consumers visit any restaurant without setting foot inside," says cofounder Jim Gurfein. A marketing veteran, Gurfein cooked up the service with former Good Morning America producer (and former Mr. Joan Lunden) Michael Krauss. Grapevine (http://www.dinersgrapevine.com) can search for a dining spot by cuisine, atmosphere, price range or zip code. Eateries can update menus daily. But the project had sour beginnings. "I'd recently divorced and started dating again, and I was in a three-restaurant rut," recalls New Yorker Krauss, 51. "I'd ask Jimmy, 'Where do I eat?' " Deadpans Gurfein: "He called every night. It got boring."
While Grapevine is free to consumers, restaurants pay $850 a year, plus $15 a day to update menus. That adds up to a lot of clams.