Multiple dishes and bowls of food on a table.
Unsplash/Jakub Kapusnak

The amount of consumers allowed on one reservation and the shopping time limit vary by location.

OpenTable Creates Tech to Reduce Crowds

OpenTable, a provider of online restaurant reservations, announced Monday the launch of a new platform to assist crowded businesses and promote social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The technology, which is free, allows grocery stores, some major retailers, restaurants, pop-up shops, and to-go concepts to provide customers staggered times in which to shop. Consumers can either book in advance or join a waitlist at the location. OpenTable said the new feature helps restaurants convert their space into a retail location to sell goods, groceries, or pre-made meals.

Shoppers can choose to be alerted by a text or notification that it’s their turn to shop. The amount of consumers allowed on one reservation and the shopping time limit vary by location.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, our new software enables our restaurant partners to pivot to takeout, delivery and storefront business models,” said Joseph Essas, chief technology officer in a statement. “Consumer habits are shifting, with over 400 percent increase in usage of our delivery and takeout feature on our platform in the last week. We hope this new solution provides similar support for retailers and grocers to help them safely manage the influx of shoppers.”

The news comes after President Donald Trump extended the federal government’s guidelines—including no gatherings of more than 10 people—to the end of April. A majority of states have issued statewide closures of restaurant dining areas and a growing number have instituted stay-at-home orders.

The initial participants in the new technology include Belcampo in both Oakland and Santa Monica, California, Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant in Los Angeles, PRAIRIE in San Francisco, Tartine Manufactory in San Francisco and Tesse Restaurant in Los Angeles, as well as grocery store The Epicurean Trader in San Francisco.

“It’s great to see how quickly the OpenTable team has adapted with the restaurant industry to meet our needs and provide us with a platform to continue reaching our diners,” added Jordan Ogron, managing partner of Tesse Restaurant, in a statement.

— Ben Coley

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News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by FSR, Food News Media, or Journalistic, Inc.