Serious foodies know all too well how difficult it can be to get a reservation at a top restaurant. Reservations fill up weeks in advance, and snagging a spot can often come down to being on the phone at the exact right moment.
Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk has teamed up with CrowdTwist co-founder Mike Montero and Eater co-founder Ben Leventhal to create Resy, an app that allows users to pay for the reservation they want.
“The world is calibrated to people who are ok going on OpenTable 30 days out, or who don’t mind making four phone calls or sending three or four emails and going back and forth and figuring out, ok I got that one. That’s a process. There’s tons and tons of friction there,” Leventhal said to Eater.
With Resy, if you decide at the last minute you want to have Saturday night dinner at Minetta Tavern, you can pay $US50 on Resy to get a reservation. The price varies, so that a weeknight reservation at Charlie Bird, for example, could cost as little as $US10 a person.
“There‘s a price tag associated with the seat now, but really what we feel like we’re doing fundamentally is improving exponentially the experience of getting a reservation,” Leventhal said. “If you have all the time in the world and you want to book 30 days out or you want to tell your assistant to pound away at the phones and the email for an hour you can still do that. Those are not the tables we’re talking about.”
The tables Resy offers on their platform are not the same tables customers compete to get weeks in advance. These are premium seats that are held for special guests but that may not be used on any given night.
“What Resy is doing is creating another store of value that’s giving the restaurants an opportunity to actually offer the tables to more people. When you buy a table on Resy the restaurant knows you’re going to show up,” Leventhal said to Eater. “There’s a much bigger idea here around us unlocking inventory that was never before available to the general public.”
It also helps restaurants to generate incremental revenue, making the most of the VIP tables that may not be used otherwise. Resy does a revenue share with each of their partnered restaurants.
So far, the food world has been hesitant to embrace Resy, claiming that charging for something that used to be free excludes a segment of consumers. New York Times food critic Pete Wells and Eater food critic Ryan Sutton weighed in on Twitter:
“I think there’s a mis-notion that everybody’s going to say, well I have to pay now, and this is elitist. I actually think it’s the reverse,” Vaynerchuk told Eater. “I think there’s a gross misunderstanding of how hard it is to actually get into these places and that the minimal cash expense, which is maybe the upgrade of a dessert cost, is actually going to allow for more democracy, not less.”
Resy is launching in beta on iOS and Android in June. Among the New York restaurants participating in the launch are Balthazar, Minetta Tavern, Charlie Bird, Morandi, Lure Fish Bar, and Rosemary’s. They hope to expand to more restaurants in New York and other cities by September.
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