David Leibner had the idea for It’s On Me 20 years ago. It just wasn’t yet an app.
In 1994, Leibner was managing a New Orleans bar called Le Bon Temp Roule, French name meaning “let the good times roll.”
Chefs, bartenders and all kinds of industry people hung out there. They’d go there to celebrate birthdays, engagements and other milestones.
There was just one problem — patrons worked various shifts and it wasn’t always possible to get everyone together for a scheduled celebration. And if they weren’t present at parties, they couldn’t buy rounds for their friends.
So Leibner invented the drink board, a chalkboard divided into three categories: “from,” “to” and “what.”
“From” would list the sender, “to” would list the recipient and “what” would tell what kind of drink.
“Good friends gift each other rye,” Leibner jokes.
And that was that. The next time the birthday girl or boy or the recently engaged pair came in, they could redeem their gift and the entry would be erased from the board.
It’s On Me is the same concept on a high-tech level.
The mobile app lets its users buy their friends food and drinks from favorite local establishments. Users can log in through Facebook or Twitter or an It’s On Me account, can browse bars and restaurants, and select and send food and beverage gifts to their friends via app, text or social media.
The app launched in August in Las Vegas, but is expanding to San Francisco, San Diego and New York. Before the name change in August, It’s On Me was known as Drinkboard.
Leibner likens it to “the gift card version of Open Table,” a website that manages restaurant reservations.
Boosting local business is central to It’s On Me.
The team vets establishments to make sure they meet their standards. For local users, it’s likely their downtown favorites are on there. For tourists, it aims to save them from having to sift through Yelp, trying to figure out what’s good.
“We want to keep it quality,” said Rachel Wenman, director of business development. Wenman’s background is in hospitality, marketing and events.
In Las Vegas, It’s On Me partners with about 30 restaurants and bars.
Fremont East establishments Commonwealth, Insert Coin(s), Le Thai, Radio City Pizza and Park on Fremont are partners, as are popular downtown bars Artifice, Frankie’s Tiki Room and Velveteen Rabbit.
Downtown restaurants include Wild, Mundo, Mingo Kitchen &Lounge, MTO Cafe, Lola’s Louisiana Kitchen and Eat. DW Bistro, Honey Salt, N9NE Steakhouse, The View Wine Bar &Kitchen and Poppy Den are also on the list.
It’s On Me charges the user 5 percent of the total bill, and charges the merchant an undisclosed service fee when the gift is redeemed.
The team consists of three engineers, three operations people, Wenman and Leibner.
Leiber said his software is also available for licensing, for businesses that don’t have mobile gifting or e-gifting capabilities.
The possibilities, or occasions, are endless.
Thanks to Facebook and other social media, “the human race has never been so hyperaware of celebratory events,” Leibner said.
For more information or to download the app, go to www.itson.me.
Contact reporter Kristy Totten at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @kristy_tea.