Card Issuers' Food Fight Escalates

American Express Co. and Visa U.S.A. continue to battle for the allegiance of New York City's restaurants.

American Express began posting advertisements Wednesday on bus shelters and telephone booths in Manhattan, touting almost 1,000 New York eateries that take the card.

Visa First off Mark

Just last month, Visa had set up a restaurant hot line for hungry New Yorkers. By dialing 888-FOOD, they could get information on about 1,000 city restaurants that accept, you guessed it, Visa cards.

Callers also can be transferred directly to participating restaurants.

If the concept sounds familiar, it's because American Express last fall offered a similar trial service in San Francisco and Boston.

American Express' New York ads, meanwhile, are tailored to neighborhoods. "Where do the locals eat in this Village?" reads a sign in Greenwich Village. "Where to get the true taste of Downtown," goes another in the Wall Street area.

Bus-shelter ads feature the names, addresses, and phone numbers of nine local restaurants. And phone booths will display detailed maps of a neighborhood with the restaurants clearly marked.

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