“The market for OpenTable and such companies was always more limited, because some people just didn’t use it,” said John A. Gordon, a principal at Pacific Management Consulting Group, which analyzes restaurants’ strategies and earnings.
“We’ve got over a million restaurants in the United States and all restaurants are trying to collect more information about their customers,” he added. “That information is useful because it can create a deeper relationship with the brand and it’s more personal and more efficient than running an ad.”
Mr. Leventhal, who also founded the website Eater, said Resy is focused on helping restaurants market themselves more strategically to their diners. If a restaurant has, say, a waiting list of 200 on a Saturday night, it can use Resy to get in touch with those diners and bring them in for dinner on a slower night with the offer of a free drink. Or, if a customer is repeatedly showing up on a wait list and not able to get in, Resy can identify the pattern and alert the restaurant, so it can make him a reservation and, most likely, create a regular.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Mr. Leventhal said. “Our goal in five years is for every restaurant that works with Resy to not worry about closing.”
When Resy started four years ago, it operated under a very different model, charging diners a premium for prime-time, hard-to-score seats at popular restaurants and earning itself unflattering comparisons to intermediaries like ticket scalpers.
“We moved away from that because restaurants told us there was a bigger opportunity,” Mr. Leventhal said. “Restaurants helped us understand we were focused on something pretty niche, in the end.”
High-profile users of Resy now include Delicious Hospitality Group (which runs Charlie Bird and Pasquale Jones in New York City), Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group and Hillstone Restaurant Group. Reserve’s clients include Major Food Group and the Chicago chef Rick Bayless’s Frontera Restaurants.