Do you use OpenTable? Chef Geoff doesn’t

WASHINGTON — D.C.-area restaurant owner Geoff Tracy joins a growing list of restaurateurs who are leaving OpenTable for less expensive third-party reservation platforms.

While OpenTable has had its share of bad press this year Tracy said his decision to abandon OpenTable was almost entirely a financial one, making the announcement to followers along with #TooExpensive.

“OpenTable had gotten very, very expensive. The eight restaurants that I oversee were paying close to $150,000 a year in total. By switching over, we were able to bring it down to about $33,000 a year,” Tracy told WTOP.

“The restaurant business is not exactly the most lucrative industry in the world, and so when you can cut your costs like that so dramatically, that helps a lot,” he said.

Tracy’s restaurants, which include two Chef Geoff’s locations, restaurant Lia, four Cafe Deluxe locations and Tortilla Coast on Capitol Hill, now use the Reserve platform for online reservations.

Reserve charges about $250 a month per restaurant, the same as OpenTable. But unlike OpenTable, it does not charge for each reservation customers make.

When D.C. chef Massimo Fabbri, who ran high-end Italian restaurant Tosca for years, opened his small, 60-seat San Lorenzo Italian restaurant in Shaw, he also chose Reserve, despite using OpenTable at restaurants in the past. Fabbri decided that for San Lorenzo, OpenTable would not be cost effective because of its small size, Eater DC told WTOP.

Restaurants and customers also like some of the customization features that Reserve offers, like being able to track customer preferences or being able to add personal information to your reservation.

“Guests can add notes in their personal profile on Reserve that states they like a certain bottle of wine or they are coming in to dine for a special occasion like an anniversary. Reserve can print out notes for servers so servers know specific information about who is dining at the table, Tierney Plumb at Eater DC told WTOP.

Yelp is also testing the waters with restaurant reservations. And Resy is a new entry with a restaurant cost model similar to Reserve.

OpenTable may be feeling the heat of new competition, but it’s not going away anytime soon.

OpenTable has been around for nearly 20 years, and has seated more than 1 billion diners to date. In the D.C.-area alone, there are roughly 4,700 restaurants listed in the OpenTable system.

How many diners make reservations online? Tracy said at his restaurants, only about 10 percent of reservations are now made over the phone with the restaurants directly.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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