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New App Reserve is the Uber for Restaurant Reservations

The founders of Uber have already disrupted the taxi industry worldwide—now they’re taking on the restaurant space with standalone app Reserve. The debut product by start up studio Expa (created by Uber founder Garrett Camp), launches today with service in New York City, Los Angeles, and Boston. Here’s how it works.

The Basics:
Reserve will be the everyman’s digital concierge. Plug in basic parameters such as the time, date, and party size for your reservation, and it will offer a curated list of vetted restaurants that may fit the bill. Select the ones that interest you, and it will seek out tables on your behalf, updating you by text message along the way. 

The Inside Track:
Why wait for a digital concierge to get you a table when other apps let you do the same thing in two clicks? Exclusive access. Reserve launches with approximately 90 buzzy restaurant partners in New York and Boston, and rather than requiring these establishments to guarantee a set number of tables for Reserve guests, they use flexibility as their advantage. Guests suggest a time range, asking for a table between 7 and 8:30 for instance, allowing restaurants to better manage the flow of service over the course of any night. If a dining room is expecting a crunch at 8PM, the restaurant is better equipped to serve everyone—and maintain order in the kitchen—by staggering reservations. That’s where Reserve comes in, creating a win-win situation for diners and businesses alike.

The VIP Touch:
Just like Uber, Reserve aims to raise the standard of service in its playing field. When you set up the app, your profile will include preferred credit cards, tipping amounts, and more—so that you can pay for your check via smartphone without even pushing a button. (Of course, tip amounts are changeable depending on service.) A summary of your bill—including a flat $5 fee for the reservation—is emailed to you’ve wrapped up your meal. Reserve is also working with restaurants to create elevated service experiences in the dining room. For instance, your profile photo might be used by the hostess, so that he or she can greet you by name as you walk into the restaurant for the very first time.

The Restaurants:
As you’d expect, Reserve’s partner list is an impressive one, including tough-to-book spots such as Carbone, ABC Kitchen, and Bar Bolonat. They’re not messing around on the food chops.

The Verdict:
Because inventory isn’t guaranteed, this won’t compete with the ever-growing list of trendy last-minute booking apps such as Table8, Resy, or KillerRezzy. Instead, Reserve will aim to steal the spotlight from OpenTable—especially when it comes to buzzy, discriminant consumers who aren’t looking to sift through endless search results. It’s an exciting new option, and one we’ll eagerly be using—as long as it can keep up with the ever-changing restaurant scenes in its target market and achieve high success rates with these reservations. 

Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein

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