Chicago restaurant Steak 48 embraces WeChat Pay as Chinese tourists expand mobile platform

A growing trend by the major mobile wallet platforms from China has been to expand its market presence to overseas markets, fueled by the millions of tourists and business travelers coming from China to retail merchants, restaurants and other businesses in North America, Europe and other major markets.

In Chicago, Steak 48, one of the top restaurant brands, has embraced the mobile wallet concept by launching a plan to accept WeChat Pay, one of the biggest mobile messaging and payment platforms in the Chinese market, and the world.

Company officials said that all Prime Steak Concepts will begin accepting WeChat Pay starting July 1st following about four months of planning.  

"It's impossible to be too considerate, we strive to be as accommodating as possible for our guests," Oliver Badio, chief brand officer of Prime Steak Concepts, told Mobile Payments Today via email. "If there's a payment platform that people prefer to use, or are comfortable using, we want to tailor the experience to be as considerate as possible."

Steak 48 currently uses the Aloha POS platform and was able to integrate the WeChat payment software into the platform with the help of SoftPoint, a partner firm that works to integrate the POS technology. Guests using the WeChat mobile app scan a QR code to pay for meals after they are presented a check, according to a spokesperson for the restaurant.  

Beyond WeChat, Steak 48 accepts all major credit cards and also accepts UnionPay, another digital wallet with widespread use in China. The restaurant does not currently accept Apple Pay or Google Pay, but officials hope to incorporate these mobile wallets into their system in the future.

Family affair

Steak 48 is owned by the Mastro family, which includes brothers Jeffrey and Michael Mastro, their father Dennis Mastro and partner Scott Troilo. The group owns several successful restaurants in different regions of the country, including Dominick's Steakhouse, Steak 44 in Phoenix and Steak 48 in Houston.

Previously, the group developed several Mastro's Steakhouse locations and Ocean Club seafood restaurants in Arizona and California, which it sold in 2007.

The family is planning to expand the Steak 48 concept into several new markets, including Philadelphia, Miami, Charlotte, North Carolina and Beverly Hills, California.

Mobile expansion

WeChat becomes the latest of the major digital payment platforms from China to expand its presence in the U.S. retail and restaurant scene.

Rivalls Alipay and UnionPay have made a number of high profile agreements to expand their foothold in the U.S., by entering relationships with top retail brands.

Alipay just reached an agreement to partner with Neiman Marcus on accepting digital payments at the apparel retailer's Neiman Marcus, Bergorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus Last Call locations.

Alipay earlier this year entered an agreement with  Walgreens to be accepted at 7,000 of the pharmacy chain's stores.

Cover image: Steak 48

Original author: David Jones