The San Francisco-based start-up, which offers an online reservation system for restaurants in select cities, tomorrow will expand its services to Chicago and Seattle by opening offices in both areas, upping its presence to eight cities. In September, the company opened an office in the New York area.
"Diners in both cities are quick adapters of cutting-edge technologies. ...We expect Chicago and Seattle areas to quickly become among the largest on our reservation network," Chuck Templeton, OpenTable.com founder and chief executive, said in a statement.
As more and more people have grown comfortable with the technology, the market for making reservations online has increased. The niche is attractive enough to have lured some big names.
Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch, for example, last month announced a new service that lets consumers make reservations online for an array of local events and activities.
OpenTable.com has partnered with more than 130 restaurants across the country, with plans to significantly increase this number over the next year. Seattle restaurants currently in OpenTable's network include Buca di Beppo and Axis, along with 11 others. Chicago restaurants include Green Dolphin Street and Vong, the company said.
"The electronic reservation book has enabled us to remember all of our repeat customers and to easily recognize our VIPs and regulars, even if our host has the night off," said Jim Malevitsis of Axis in Seattle.
OpenTable.com's reservation system enables customers to search for restaurants on three different criteria: type of cuisine, restaurant name, or location/neighborhood. Customers can book reservations weeks in advance or find out whether tables are open the same night.
OpenTable.com works with restaurants by setting up a terminal that can be used to input phone reservations as well as Internet reservations. Bookings made online come in through the Internet and show up alongside other reservations.