Skip navigation

Greene Turtle favors low-tech loyalty program

All loyalty programs aren’t necessarily high-priced or high-tech.

Since the first The Greene Turtle unit opened in 1976, the concept has offered its Mug Club, available now in all 26 units of the Edgewater, Md.-based chain.

Customers buy a mug for about $45, and it hangs at the bar and is taken down for $1-off pints and deeper discounts during happy hours. In addition to promoting repeat business among regulars, the Mug Club also serves as a unique feature of The Greene Turtle’s decor.

“It is definitely a conversation piece when customers are sitting at the bar and inquire as to ‘What’s with all these mugs hanging here?’” said Mike Sanford, the chain’s chief executive. “Most enjoy being able to be ‘part of the club’ and showing off their mug when on-site.”

To inspire loyalty, the mugs are numbered and purchased for life.  

“I don’t know if any have been left in wills,” Sanford said, “but I do know there have been customers that have been buried with them.”

Sanford added that loyalty is important for all restaurants. 

“Obviously, the cost of obtaining a new customer is much higher than getting existing customers to return,” he said.

The majority owner in parent Greene Turtle Franchising Corp., which has units in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., is JPB Capital Partners, a Columbia, Md.-based private-equity company.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.