Grubbable's cofounders. From left to right: Jake Wesorick, Eric Russ, Michael Feng. Photo Courtesy: Elisha Feng of Field Gems Photography.

Do you like local restaurants? Do you look for locally sourced food when you go out? Have a smartphone? Here’s something that is just for you.

Meet Grubbable, the Detroit-based app that works like a Wikipedia for your favorite local Detroit and Metro Detroit restaurants, but it also gives you discounts. How? By learning more about the local farms and artisans each restaurant uses.

“When they eat at any old chain, they are supporting often unsustainable agriculture, cruel environmental practices, and corporate offices not in their community,” said Michael Feng, one of Grubbable’s cofounders.

“We are trying to get people to understand if they eat locally with restaurants that use local food, they are not only eating healthier, they are supporting the environment and the local economy. Taxpayer money gets recycled, keeping revenue within the community. They are voting with their food dollars.”

Another part of the app gives you a minimum of 10% off your main dish at each Grubbable restaurant for $4/month, with the first month free. It’s not like a Groupon or Yelp discount which ends after the transaction is complete. Diners will always enjoy the restaurant’s Grubbable discount as long as they are members. Watch how their app works.

The app was launched this month and it already has close to 70 restaurant partners. The partners are curated, to say the least.

Only local restaurants that source their protein or produce from local (in Michigan or within 400 miles of Detroit) or natural artisans and farms can be partners. Initially, Detroit’s dining scene did not know what to make of Michael Feng, Jake Wesorick, and Eric Russ, Grubbable’s cofounders.

“Overall, the reception has been positive,” Michael Feng said. “A lot think we are just another sales/marketing app. In the beginning, there was hesitancy. Restaurants get sold so much on all sorts of things. Our app is completely free for the restaurants to join. Once they learn we are trying to grow the community and grow the desire for local foods, they are really excited. Even restaurants that have never done a price reduction or a coupon, never paid for Yelp advertising said ‘we see the mission you are trying to do, so we will do the 10% baseline discount because we see the greater good.’”

Grubbable’s mission is for diners to eat with a purpose. Grubbable’s cofounders met through attending the same church. They shared a love of dining out and finding restaurants that use good ingredients. They realized Grubbable needed to exist because there isn’t a centralized list of companies that show where restaurants get their ingredients.

Really get to know each restaurant.
Really get to know each restaurant.

“Yelp doesn’t,” Feng said. “Zomato doesn’t, and Googling articles, stories, and individual restaurants is just a lot of work. With Grubbable, we do the hard work for you of vetting restaurants and we’ve even turned some restaurants away who didn’t meet our standards. It is an incredible amount of information and the complexity of the standards for what qualifies as natural food speaks to why this app is necessary.”

Paul Sulek, chef/proprietor of Dish, the New American carryout restaurant on Detroit’s East Side, is one of Grubbable’s partner restaurants. They work with Eastern Market, Guernsey Farms in Novi for their dairy, and Peacock’s Poultry Farm in Troy for their chicken.

“There is nothing like Grubbable right now,” Sulek said. “It is its own food app niche. They are supporting independent mom-and-pop businesses trying to keep it local and keep it fresh. It seems like a good deal for the user and it gets exposure for restaurants.”

The app is in its early stages. I gave the app a test drive at Great Harvest Bread Co. in Birmingham and the staff was new to using Grubbable to complete the transaction. But the sale came through and the app works well. While I waited in line, I enjoyed reading about the local farms where Great Harvest gets its ingredients. Then, I got a discount off my Portobello Mushroom Banh Mi.

What will they think of next?

Detroit Podcast