Restaurant Choices? Start Online

August 22, 2011

I believe in marketing. Call it an occupational hazard, but marketing is communication, a dialog, a type of problem solving. Advertising is a sale, a pitch, hard ball, fast ball, slow curve, aimed at a customer with the intention to hit. Marketing is design, creation of connection, shared experience, amplification of the brand, resonating so much more than superficial, cheerleader advertising. Marketing wears the glasses and advertising wins the awards.

Restaurants which market effectively online don’t seem as effective in a vacuum; much better in context. Where do I need to be before an event, appointment or what is convenient to where I am now? What tastes, cuisines, ingredients do I crave? Which experiences have I enjoyed in the past and what experience might satisfy me now? What’s new? What’s hip?

My favorite is OpenTable (not to be mistaken with a Christian organization/support group by the same name). They are starting to activate their online marketing more assertively and it’s really sexy to watch. When I make a reservation online, I am looking for what’s new, what restaurants are still in business, and what’s in it for me. Can I earn 1,000 points or will I earn just 100? Points add up and translate into a rebate check to use on my next dining experience.

Many times I have been delighted to find my server bringing me (and my sweetheart) an amuse bouche- something to delight the mouth, a bite-sized appetizer. Thank you Open Table for making my loyalty valuable! Oftentimes the manager or able assistant will stop by and ask about how our meal is going and we talk about the chef’s specialties, what’s popular on the menu, what’s unique, and how business is going. I’m interested. I love restaurants and I want them to succeed.

Below are some links to online restaurant resources. I want to hear how you discover new restaurants and if you use additional websites not listed here. It’s all marketing, baby!

Open Table

OpenTable is a fast, efficient way to find available tables that meet desired criteria for cuisine, price and location at a specified time online restaurant reservations. The OpenTable network delivers the convenience of online restaurant reservations to diners and the operational benefits of a computerized reservation book to restaurants. OpenTable has more than 20,000 restaurant customers, and, since its inception in 1998, has seated more than 200 million diners around the world.

Free, sort by region, cuisine and restaurant name. Online or mobile only. Make reservations an hour in advance and earn points towards future rebate.

For the Essex, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the owner, David Perlman, has turned to Internet coupons with the just-launched coupon service of OpenTable, because it brought in gourmet diners who were more likely to turn into repeat customers. “We had a positive, profitable experience with both (e.g., Groupon), but I liked OpenTable better, just because it is more geared toward restaurants,” he says. “The people we attracted with OpenTable are people we want to add to our customer base.”


Foursquare Foodie Badge

Mobile Ap

Located in Rye, New York, a real grassroots resource

Hated the experience. Buy a gift card which is merely a discount coupon with restrictions, requires you to buy a larger minimum dinner check and an 18% tip. Just reconsider before using.

Bad domain choice – too easy to confuse with Coupons for fast food. Ad heavy site. Clunky and not engaging, no regional distinction within the selected city.

Insider Pricing at Premier Restaurants, hard sell on selected restaurants

635 restaurants in L.A.

Discount on food and drink, does not apply to restaurant week menu, happy hour menu, special event menus, holiday menus or private event menus. 18% gratuity added. If receiving emails that drive impulse dining are your style, this is for you. I prefer leisurely dining at places I have carefully considered and planned for.


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