The creation of the Foodie Card happened organically for Neil Foster and his wife Emma.
What started out as a Facebook group to share “the good, the bad and the ugly” of everyday dining experiences, in the words of Foster, turned into a service that gives people restaurant discounts while providing meals through a local charity.
Nearly three years ago in 2015, Foster and his wife founded the Tri-State Restaurant Club (TSRC), a closed Facebook group which he compared to a “real-time Zagat.” The concept is simple: group members can give restaurant recommendations, leave reviews or post food photos from anywhere in the world.
In the beginning, the East Hills, Long Island resident said that the group had a few hundred people, but has since grown to over 61,000 food enthusiasts who regale each other with their varied experiences.
“The interaction is tremendous,” Foster said.
He adds that the group is closed to the public and each member must be approved by him. His reasons for a closed group are to keep out advertisements or self promotions, and also to ensure that members of the group are from the United States.
After two years of running the Facebook group, Foster wanted more. He said that in October 2017 he woke up and realized that the TSRC was taking up much of his time with zero return. He thought about ways to give back to charity that would be a win for both the restaurants and the customers. So in January 2018, the Fosters launched the service and the Foodie Card was born.
For $29.99 a year, customers can purchase a Foodie Card, which takes 10 percent off the dine-in bill at any of the participating restaurants listed on their website. Foster said that it does not cost restaurants anything to participate in the Foodie Card program and restaurant owners who are interested can email him to be added to their ever-growing list.
With every purchase of a Foodie Card, Island Harvest and City Harvest donate one full day of meals to a person in need. Foster estimates that for every $1000 made, 3000 meals are donated by the organizations.
“It’s a win for everybody,” Foster said.
In addition to founding the Foodie Card, Foster was also one of the tastemakers for the April World’s Fare in Flushing, which showcased the cuisine from over 100 countries around the globe. The event was created by Joshua Schneps, founder of the LIC Flea & Food and Astoria Flea and Food markets, as an homage to the 1964 World’s Fair.
As a lead up to the 2019 World’s Fare, the organizers will host the World’s Fare Passport Series starting in August. Those interested can get a taste of The Americas (Aug. 11-12), Europe (Sept. 8-9) and Asia (Oct. 20-21). The events all take place at 525 46th Ave. on the Long Island City waterfront.
In the future, Foster has plans to expand the Foodie Card’s reach, but is content with where the service is for the time being.
“Our goal is to knock it out of the park in Long Island and New York City,” Foster said. He added that once the Foodie Card’s reputation has been solidified, they will expand to other areas.