You already know there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But these days, you might find yourself paying for a table as well.
Once Resy officially launches at the end of the month, the sleek new app will offer patrons the opportunity to pay for in-demand reservations at exclusive eateries.
The idea is that discerning customers are willing to shell out for a hassle-free seat—or several—at some of the city’s buzziest restaurants.
Sound unlikely? Don’t be so sure.
A team of industry veterans is betting that at least a fraction of foodies is prepared to put its money where its mouth is.
The app is the brainchild of industry veteran Ben Leventhal and financial investor Gary Vaynerchuk. The duo dreamed up the concept at—what else?—a certain velvet-rope restaurant. The venue had been booked solid, but Leventhal called a friend to get them inside. Still, the exchange got them “talking about the state of restaurants” and the fact that regular eaters are not in a position to pull rank as they could.
Leventhal remembers wondering why no one had invented a "kind of Uber for reservations" -- an intuitive platform that would offer customers the chance to claim the tables they craved. With Resy, Leventhal and Vaynerchuk are determined to do just that—for a price.
Already available for limited download, Resy shows users up-to-the-minute reservations that are available in their area on a given evening. They tap—once, twice -- and a choice table is theirs. Price depends on demand.
In an interview with Eater.com, Leventhal explained, "Tables will vary in price, two bar seats on a Tuesday night at Charlie Bird might be ten bucks a piece and Saturday night at Minetta Tavern might be closer to fifty."
Leventhal and Vaynerchuk are banking on a class of glittery New Yorkers to welcome the technology. As anyone who has ever been so unlucky as to find himself stranded and hungry on the corner of Kenmare Street can imagine, some will.
But Resy does not appeal only to demanding diners. It benefits the restaurants that partner with it as well. Leventhal, himself a founder of Eater.com, said that industry reception to the platform has been positive. Don’t take his word for it. Such buzzy kitchens as Estela and Lure Fishbar have already signed up.
"We’re addressing an obvious need for restaurants, which is to provide tables for customers when they want them,” says Leventhal. And while he is loath to disclose financial details, Leventhal promises that Resy is committed to being as generous as possible in its partnerships.
Unlike OpenTable, which charges restaurants a flat fee on each cover booked through its software, Resy shares its profits with the establishments that operate on it. Still, Resy is a business and someone has to pay. By flipping the traditional reservations model, Resy leaves its users with the bill. Having trouble stomaching it? You’re not alone. The model has its critics.