The Chiltern Firehouse in London is notoriously hard to get into. Scores of foodies have written about the restaurant’s exclusivity, which is crawling with A-list guests. But soon, snagging a last-minute table at one of the hottest places to be seen right now could be made easier with a new app called Uncover.
Uncover has forged relationships with some of London’s most in-demand spots to create a catalogue of late cancellations and booking errors.
After tapping into the program and selecting your preferences — restaurants are categorised under labels such as “hot spots,” “Michelin-starred dining,” and “hidden gems” — the app will alert users where something is open.
We successfully tested out Uncover this weekend and were able to make a same-day booking at the Aqua Shard, located at top of The Shard, at 8:30 p.m. Prime time!
Uncover has already signed up at least 150 restaurants, but it seems this is just the beginning. We spoke to the guys behind Uncover — David Saenz, Christopher Steinau, and Dan Ziv — to find out more about how the app is bringing accessibility and spontaneity to the exclusive London dining scene.
Business Insider: What inspired you to set Uncover up?
Uncover: It’s real-life experience. We used to work in other areas of business and when we were in London it was always very hard to get a table. We would try lots of different places — but as we often travelled, we didn’t always have a set schedule which made things really difficult. We found ourselves hoping for cancellations and that’s what gave us the idea. It was a lightbulb moment for us.
BI: Obviously Uncover focuses on high-end, more exclusive restaurants. Who are you working with now and where in the future might get involved?
U: We do work with restaurants that are more exclusive. There’s something in that. We partner with the buzziest, most popular places and are forming more links all the time. We already have a good list — 150 so far. We’ve got La Gavroche, Gymkhana, and Yauatcha already. And yes, we’re talking to the Chiltern Firehouse to try to establish something there too. We’re confident we could get something, although it would probably only be a couple of tables a week. We’re working up to lots of things.
BI: How does the app work?
U: We don’t charge the restaurants, we just take a fee from bookings. It’s very simple: We hand-pick the best available, list them, and then people can search Uncover for options and book instantly. We’re improving the app all the time, adding things like better photos — it’s good marketing for restaurants, obviously. But it’s also about discovery: helping people in the city find new and exciting places they might not know about, uncovering amazing food.
BI: With your background in business, it looks as though Uncover is popular with people who endured the same difficulties as you all did when trying to eat out?
U: Yes, we’ve seen a great uptake. We’ve had more than 10,000 downloads already and everyone can use it; there’s a broad spectrum of people. But it is certainly a favourite with business people, PRs, and concierges because they often need to entertain and sometimes meetings are booked late. Also, we’re finding Uncover is being used by people who travel a lot and aren’t sure about the city they’re visiting. They need inspiration or somewhere quick but that’s still going to impress clients.
BI: In terms of travelling, is Uncover launching outside London soon?
U: Yes, we want to expand in the future. Places like Paris, New York, and Hong Kong would be perfect for the app. But we only just soft launched in November, so we’re only just coming out of our testing phase really. We’ve been trialling Uncover over the last few months. But we think we’ve got a pretty strong chance of progressing.