The restaurant industry is a regular target of Top or Hot or Best lists, whether in print or on a blog. In the mix since 2011 is OpenTable’s yearly Top Hot Spots list, comprised of 100 restaurants in the U.S. Like its counterparts, the list is meant to be a guide for diners who eat locally or seek recommendations during their travels.
What sets OpenTable's lists apart, according to Scott Jampol, OpenTable's vice president of consumer marketing, is that its lists are derived from diners' opinions. OpenTable boasts more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by diners, and their ratings help determine each of OpenTable's lists. In the case of the Top Hot Spots, the list was determined by a score that factored in each restaurant's average rating in the Hot Spot category, along with a minimum Overall rating.
"Because we have technology in both the hands of consumers and restaurants, we're in a unique position to provide diners and restaurants with a trusted feedback loop," Jampol writes in an email. "The lists are a byproduct of this virtuous cycle."
It also helps foster a relationship between a restaurant and diner if a restaurant for which they’ve written a review wins an award or lands on a top list. “It makes the diner feel more connected [to the restaurant he or she reviewed],” Jampol writes.
He adds that the list is especially poignant for first-year restaurants, a testament to their efforts and diners’ responding enthusiasm. One story OpenTable loves, Jampol writes, is from the owner and team of Coltello Ristorante Italiano in New Jersey, which landed on the Top 100 Best Overall winners (released in December 2013) during its first year of business.
To celebrate, Costello's owner hosted a celebration dinner at fellow Best Overall winner Vetri in Philadelphia.
Del Frisco's nabbed two spots on the OpenTable Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurant list, revealed last month, though Lisa Kislak, vice president of marketing at Del Frisco's, says the restaurant doesn't do anything special or out-of-the-ordinary to land on lists or win accolades. But the list does provide a boost and reinforce what the brand tries to do each day, she says.
“[It’s good] if you’re traveling for vacation or for business, and you use a source like OpenTable,” Kislak says. “I know there are even people who decide they want to try as many restaurants as they can on a particular list, whether its OpenTable’s Top Hot Spots or others like that. So, to be on that is definitely going to help us.”
The biggest attribute of being on OpenTable’s Top Hot Spots, Kislak says, is that the staff and management at the two locations see how guests value them. “So much about this is both thanking our guests, but more importantly, thanking our staffs, because they deliver the experience. And really, being excited and proud of them.”
Both of the Del Frisco’s locations on the Top Hot Spots list are located in Texas, Del Frisco’s home state, and opened in 2013.
For a full list of the OpenTable Top 100 Hot Spot Restaurants in America, click here.
By Sonya Chudgar