Restaurant rewards cabbies for their tip


Know a good seafood restaurant?

Ask a city cabdriver and he's apt to answer Blue Sea Grill at 614 Water St.

Big Steaks Management, which owns the Blue Sea Grill and several other restaurants around town, recently created a rewards program that will pay cabdrivers for referring customers to the restaurant.

Under the program, drivers will receive $50 for every 30 guests that they refer to the restaurant. The program is similar to one that Big Steaks has with local hotels, where it rewards the concierge services for referring guests to its restaurants. Those restaurants include Ruth's Chris Steak House on Water Street and Pier 5, and the Babalu Grill, as well as the Blue Sea Grill.

Cabdrivers who turned out for the kickoff event for the program and to pick up a free lunch recently said they don't see this as a difficult assignment.

"We take our customers everywhere, and we give information to lots of tourists and visitors," said Odeola Ojunbiyi of the Yellow Cab Co.

While the Blue Sea Grill is the only Baltimore restaurant using a reward system for cabdrivers, Big Steaks Management officials said programs of this kind are fairly common in large cities. They used it at the opening of the Babalu Grill in Atlantic City and intend to try it at other eateries.

"Our marketing approach is very grass-roots oriented," said Heather Renz, marketing director for the restaurant chain. "We do things like this on a monthly basis at some of our other locations." Besides restaurants in Baltimore, the company owns restaurants in Annapolis; Pikesville; Cary, N.C.; and Atlantic City, N.J.

William Monfried, a driver for Arrow Cab Co., said the incentive program recognizes the important role taxi drivers play in the city's restaurant business. "It's very nice of them to do this," he said.

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