LivingSocial Opens Lavish Events Center

918-f-streetIf a daily deals bubble ever wipes out LivingSocial, expect industry jokes about sushi and mixology classes. The Washington, DC-based company today announced the opening of a 28,000 square foot events space dubbed “918 F Street” – the address where it’s located in the nation’s capital.

The six-floor building includes a culinary kitchen, a separate demo kitchen that’s meant to comfortably fit 36 people, and flexible spaces that can be adapted for cooking classes, dancing, and dining. A basement bar will host mixology classes, as well as beer and wine tastings. LivingSocial has partnered with hospitality and restaurant consulting firm Vucurevich Simons Advisory Group to manage food and beverage programs at 918 F Street.

The space will host its first event this spring when Mike Isabella, best known as a participant on the Bravo TV show “Top Chef,” offers a preview of his new Mexican restaurant.

So what exactly is the point, on a business level? Maire Griffin, LivingSocial rep, described the company’s marketing goals in an email to ClickZ:

“In our talks with merchants over the past two years we’ve heard that merchants want new ways to be able to work with us,” she said. “Perhaps it’s a smaller merchant who wants to develop his/her brand but doesn’t have the capacity to properly manage an influx of consumers from a daily deal (think a yoga instructor with no studio). Maybe it’s a chef who wants to test a new menu but doesn’t want to interrupt his/her existing business.”

Griffin added, “From a consumer perspective, the venue will offer a range of programming that can satisfy almost any consumer need/want – painting calls, cooking classes, pop-up restaurants, etc.”

Daily Deals Site Fallouts

While LivingSocial – backed by Amazon – appears to be on relatively solid footing, the saturated daily deals space is definitely experiencing turbulence. Three weeks ago, Gilt City dismissed “80-90 employees,” according to a BetaBeat report, while closing six regional offices.

According to a Daily Deals Media study, there are 800 fewer daily deals sites now when compared to six months ago. And daily deals aggregator and promotional codes provider Digital Doorstep filed for bankruptcy last month, citing in an email more than $3 million in past due receivables by 23 partner companies.

LivingSocial holds the No. 2 daily deals spot behind Groupon, which last week released Q4 earnings that left investors feeling skittish about the firm. It recorded a net loss of $43 million for the quarter, on global revenue of $506 million.

Meanwhile, Groupon is reportedly redesigning its website to include “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” buttons, which will allow the Chicago company’s users to express approval or discontent towards its deals.

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