Groupon made news when it turned down Google’s takeover bid. I decided to give it a try.  I’ve only bought two, and used one, but it’s a good deal for the consumer. From what I can gather, it’s not such a great deal for the vendors.

My first purchase was a $30 Groupon for $15 for It’s Only Natural, an award-winning vegetarian restaurant. I turned down the pilates in a town about 25 miles away. Ditto for a bar 20 miles away. Ditto for the mini donuts. The kiddy Playscape date puzzled me until I realized I hit the wrong year on my age. Was tempted by the discount for Min Ghung but don’t eat enough to justify the expense. And I won’t be going back with friends any time soon.

ION was exciting, though. I’ve known owner Mark Shadle since the place was in its embryonic stage in a cramped but funky space in Middletown’s North End. He shared a house in the wilds of Killingworth with one of my colleagues from the Middletown Press. I remember attending a party that consisted of hordes of mosquitoes and repeated firing of bottle rockets (M-80s?) to fend them off. The smoke kept the little buggers at bay for about a half hour each. I gave up and went home after they fired the third round. These guys, and a couple of girl roommates, were not many years removed from college.

Mark has since moved to much more sophisticated digs and had the place Feng Shui’d. At least I think that explains the little fountain at the entrance, which seems to adorn a great many Asian restaurants. He has won awards all over the world for his creations, and the quality of the food improves each time I eat there. Among my favorites is the miso soup, which is far better than anything I’ve had in a Japanese restaurant. I think the secret is that ION carmelizes the onions.

Anyway, I had lunch there with a friend last week. We each ate a rather substantial meal, accompanied by tea. The bill came to $33. We paid $3 plus tip. The wait staff was totally nice, actually welcoming, about the Groupon. One of course always leaves the tip based on the original amount.

Next stop will be Uptown Consignment for my spring wardrobe, once I can remove the thermal underwear, thermal socks, and earmuffs.

Even if I don’t buy, I love Groupon the Cat. Today’s highlight: the first Thanksgiving fare of “partially defeathered turkey cooked 2 inches from an outdoor open flame, wooden bowls containing scoops of half-melted snow, tuberculosis, and a thin broth made from the overnight boiling of the previous year’s buckles.”


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