Food Friday: Would you pay for a reservation?

The pay for a reservation space is heating up. The two big players (or at least ones I’m aware of) are Resy and Reserve. Both present an interesting take on things.

Resy is locking up secured spots at top restaurants and then selling those spots on their app to folks who either waited too long to make a reservation or want to “know” immediately they can get a spot. The prices vary from $15 to $60. Yes, that’s just for the reservation. You don’t get anything for that, except a table of course. (You so silly hard to get into Charlie Bird).

Reserve does it a bit different (for now). They have you put in your Credit Card, then “request” a table for a small fee, but all it does is send a request to the restaurant. You’re not buying a guaranteed slot as far as I can tell. The restaurant needs to get back to you (odd). The one neat thing is since your CC is tied to your account when you get to the restaurant you just eat and roll and the check is automatically paid. That’s gotta feel pretty cool. Like having a house account.

Resy looks better to me style-wise and I like their model better. My guess is they’ll do more inventive things with Ben Leventhal involved. Reserve looks like the UBER of reservation apps. Makes sense as they are founded by a former UBER dude.

And while I’m rooting for Ben, Gary and crew, I have a hard time seeing super high demand for this. Then again, I don’t like or use UBER and well they’re doing just fine without my business. Though anecdotally I’ve spoken to a quite a few folks who have a lot of money, eat out a ton (work and personal), and love UBER (for reference) and they’ve all said, “Hell no I would never pay for a reservation, why would I?” Maybe that will change. Though I agree I think it will be a challenge to generate a lot of demand for this. I’m sure I’ll be proven wrong about that, too 😉

Though honestly, I’ve never had a lot of trouble getting a table anywhere in New York City. That’s not a brag. That’s just about being nice on the phone when I call or not waiting until the last minute and using OpenTable. Perhaps there are a lot of people out there where they either can’t or don’t want to do that. We’ll see.

So would you pay for a reservation?

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