Postcards from Paradise: NYC’s Jo’s Restaurant Resurrects the Original Check-In

Jo's postcard features a photograph of owner Johnny Santiago's mother (and the restaurant's namesake) Josephine as a young child with playmates in Newark's Ironbound neighborhood.

Post-dinner gifts, or takeaways, are nothing new. Restaurants have been sending diners on their way with extras, ranging from muffins, cookies, madeleines, granola, truffles, and more, for years now. [Ed. note: If anyone reading this is like me, you probably forget about said muffin or truffle at the bottom of your bag until the next day when it no longer resembles a muffin or candy]. Recently, though, I encountered a very clever parting gift at Jo’s Restaurant.

Less filling than a muffin, and more fulfilling, Jo’s postcard program encourages diners to fill out post-meal postcards. Jo’s will then send the postcards to anyone — anywhere in the world. They serve hundreds of diners in a week, and of that number, about 40 opt to send post-meal postcards.

The brainchild of Johnny Santiago, co-owner of Jo’s restaurant in Manhattan’s Nolita, the postcards have been used to present dining checks since they opened their doors three years ago. Noting the fleeting nature of check-ins and posts to social media sites, Santiago wanted diners to create a more permanent memory of their time at Jo’s to share with friends. He says, “Everybody’s always checking in on Facebook and Twitter, but it wasn’t so long ago that you’d let people know you were visiting somewhere new or on vacation by sending postcards, so we had this thought that our diners should revisit that tradition.”

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