By Deane Barker on June 19, 2007

Restaurant Reservations Go Online: Interesting story about the dominant restaurant reservation service. These guys found a hole in an industry and have filled with with something so indispensable that it has become a requirement.

And that, folks, is how you get rich.

“All restaurants have to do it, whether you like it or not,” said Charles Phan, the owner and executive chef of the Slanted Door, currently ranked as the most popular restaurant in San Francisco on “There’s no way around it. At this point, there’s no other technology or easy solution for making Web reservations.”

Making a reservation through OpenTable costs the diner nothing. And it reduces the inconvenience. Say you want a table on short notice at a busy Manhattan restaurant — Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe. Placing a phone call there usually requires calling during business hours, enduring loud jazz for hold music, and talking with a reservationist for a while before finding an acceptable time. OpenTable might give you the same results, but it will do the work in 10 seconds.

Here are some great examples of the value-add:

Doug Washington, a co-owner of Town Hall, said the notes were not just helpful, they are occasionally indispensable. Next to the name of one regular, who has a habit of bringing in women he is not married to, is an instruction to make sure the man’s wife has not booked a separate table for the same day.

Another frequent guest asks the restaurant to send over dessert compliments of the chef but to put the charge on the guest’s bill. Of another, who takes many of his first dates to Town Hall, the instructions read, “Do not treat like a regular!”

It’s distributed CRM. Via Kottke.