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CityEats Is For Sale


DonRocks
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City Eats did not "fold", it was sold.  Agilysys acquired City Eats. Many, if not most, City Eats restaurants are on the new platform.

For the restaurant, it is a flat rate service with no special hardware requirements or equipment rentals like Open Table has. Starting January 1, the platform will charge the client restaurant $.35 per reservation, not the $1 per person fee of an Open Table reservation made thru the OT platform.

OT fes were our 5th highest category of expense. {Rent, Labor, Food, Utilities, Open Table}.

Plus, on the OT platform, OT aggressicely promoted your competition.  On the rGuest platform, the reservation process is kept on the restaurants website and no other restaurants are promoted.  

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City Eats did not "fold", it was sold.  Agilysys acquired City Eats. Many, if not most, City Eats restaurants are on the new platform.

For the restaurant, it is a flat rate service with no special hardware requirements or equipment rentals like Open Table has. Starting January 1, the platform will charge the client restaurant $.35 per reservation, not the $1 per person fee of an Open Table reservation made thru the OT platform.

OT fes were our 5th highest category of expense. {Rent, Labor, Food, Utilities, Open Table}.

Plus, on the OT platform, OT aggressicely promoted your competition.  On the rGuest platform, the reservation process is kept on the restaurants website and no other restaurants are promoted.  

Are you saying there won't be a centralized website anymore?

If not, then what are this model's barriers to entry in the marketplace?

There is great consumer appeal in going to one location instead of to all the individual restaurant websites, and I suspect that ten years from now, the leader in this industry will have two things:

1) no special equipment

2) a centralized website

Remember I said this on September 10, 2024 and yes, I am implying here that OpenTable is a goner unless they change their ways of doing business. Too many restaurants hate (and I mean *hate*) them - they had a quasi-monopoly and took full advantage of it. That said, CityEats wasn't anything more than a "Fund and Go" concept - there's now plenty of room for competition, and I'd say the field is wide open. Interestingly, what gave OpenTable their monopoly was a low-tech society; the internet will see to it that this doesn't happen in the future (I know what I'd be working on if I had Yelp's money).

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Remember I said this on September 10, 2024 and yes, I am implying here that OpenTable is a goner unless they change their ways of doing business. Too many restaurants hate (and I mean *hate*) them - they had a quasi-monopoly and took full advantage of it. That said, CityEats wasn't anything more than a "Fund and Go" concept - there's now plenty of room for competition, and I'd say the field is wide open. Interestingly, what gave OpenTable their monopoly was a low-tech society; the internet will see to it that this doesn't happen in the future (I know what I'd be working on if I had Yelp's money).

Well I think Opentable with the announcement yesterday for the Apple pay concept that you will be able to pay your bill to a restaurant with Opentable and not have to hand over a credit card is going to help Opentable stay on the mark.  But who knows, I think if the payment system for Opentable works like the other Apple payment systems in that it doesn't store your real credit card information on Opentable this would also decrease credit card number theft, but I don't know exactly how it will work yet.

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So I'm curious if you could suggest what program you wish diners would use?

I am often making my reservations for an upcoming evening in early morning when going over calendar with my sweetie - I have my phone but not my computer.  Sometimes I know specifically what restaurant I want, sometimes I have just a location we will be and want to find a restaurant.

Or sometimes I'm somewhere and I want to know what restaurant near me has an open table

Open Table does those things for me.

Yelp gives me a review but then I need to also call the restaurant to make a reservation, and can only do that when they are open and I'm able to talk.

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So I'm curious if you could suggest what program you wish diners would use?

I am often making my reservations for an upcoming evening in early morning when going over calendar with my sweetie - I have my phone but not my computer.  Sometimes I know specifically what restaurant I want, sometimes I have just a location we will be and want to find a restaurant.

Or sometimes I'm somewhere and I want to know what restaurant near me has an open table

Open Table does those things for me.

Yelp gives me a review but then I need to also call the restaurant to make a reservation, and can only do that when they are open and I'm able to talk.

Let me know what you need that isn't in here (one thing this has that nothing else does is an expert who is personally ranking and recommending nearly every restaurant).

This is not a Look At Me! post; it is a request for information. We all know that people want some of the restaurants in the Multiple Locations Guide distributed into neighborhoods. I know that the neighborhood ordering is all wrong because it was done piecemeal, and I also know that it would be nice to be able to sort by "Thai, Arlington County," etc." This is all what I envision in the future with a programmer - but I need to know what else is missing. Single clicks to Open Table for each restaurant? Clicks to other reviews? I've always been concerned with making things small, so instead of brief overviews, I may make a click to longer reviews in the future. I need a way to incorporate tabs and sorting (so, for example, you can list all Thai restaurants in Arlington County, by ranking).

I view the Dining Guides as some of our most important features, so we may as well try and get them right. I do not have the ability or desire to single-click into a reservation system (this is why CityEats failed - it's a huge, labor-intensive task that would cost millions of dollars to implement). Two things I need are are a programmer, and some foot soldiers - if I had both, I could pretty much do anything, and even those will need to wait awhile. Everything I've discussed here (other than the reservation system) is extremely easy and doable, but I have some other concerns in my life that I must tend to first - then, I will get that programmer and those foot soldiers, and some investors and you'll have yourselves a real product.

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main thing missing is a knowledge of the city and my hate of making phone calls.

Example:  If I'm driving my grandma home from the zoo and she says 'Can we get Italian dinner' (and the only restaurant I've ever been to in that area is Dino's and I know that isn't there anymore) I have no idea what neighborhood I'm in or what i'm going to pass thru or especially what is only a short detour.  I've only been here 5 years and don't know much outside Alexandria, especially when I'm driving.  So for the 'right now what is near me, open, and has seating'  the list isn't very helpful for me, I would have to pull over, look at the map on my phone to find out what the area is called and what is close, then find the correct listing then pick a restaurant that sounds good, click to web page, find the phone number, call, see if they have seating, all why trying to explain to grandma that no I'm not talking to her right now I'm on the phone.  And if it is a busy time I would have to do this 4-5 times before I find a place.

Example 2:  On phone with friend - hey lets grab dinner tonight - and being able to make and confirm that I have a reservation for us while they are still on the phone without having to call them back.

When i do use the list - Friend is coming into town and staying at x hotel - I find that on map and find closest metro station and then use that to look at the listing of restaurants - pick 3-4 and send her the blurb and website link.

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main thing missing is a knowledge of the city and my hate of making phone calls.

Example:  If I'm driving my grandma home from the zoo and she says 'Can we get Italian dinner' (and the only restaurant I've ever been to in that area is Dino's and I know that isn't there anymore) I have no idea what neighborhood I'm in or what i'm going to pass thru or especially what is only a short detour.  I've only been here 5 years and don't know much outside Alexandria, especially when I'm driving.  So for the 'right now what is near me, open, and has seating'  the list isn't very helpful for me, I would have to pull over, look at the map on my phone to find out what the area is called and what is close, then find the correct listing then pick a restaurant that sounds good, click to web page, find the phone number, call, see if they have seating, all why trying to explain to grandma that no I'm not talking to her right now I'm on the phone.  And if it is a busy time I would have to do this 4-5 times before I find a place.

Example 2:  On phone with friend - hey lets grab dinner tonight - and being able to make and confirm that I have a reservation for us while they are still on the phone without having to call them back.

When i do use the list - Friend is coming into town and staying at x hotel - I find that on map and find closest metro station and then use that to look at the listing of restaurants - pick 3-4 and send her the blurb and website link.

Okay, you need mapping capabilities, in particular without having to tap too many buttons.

Alternatively, you can call the helpline in any of these cases, but the mapping capabiliity will help you in the general case.

This type of feedback is very useful. Thank you!

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if I could have my dream app I would like to be able to also rank or select by:

Noise Level (to high)

Good for large parties

Will split checks

Lighting level

parking

metro accessible

handicap accessible

im sure there are more

This is all doable, with lighting and sound needing to be measured on several occasions, and policies (splitting checks) subject to management decisions.

This is very useful information in the long term (probably to my competitors as well), but definitely for the dining community in general.

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And cause I'm waiting for a program to run and have some time....  here is how i DO use your listing.....

Say I want to eat somewhere new tonight but want local (Alexandria)  (Not actually - going to Finn and Porter toinght for Grandma's 97th BD)
 
Goto Old Town Alexandria section of Virginia page
  Restaurant Eve - (  out of my price range for tonight, do want to go there sometime)
  Bastille - (  been there, enjoyed it, may go back)
  Vaso's Kitchen - ( humm name sounds interesting - oh Greek he dosen't like greek but let me look
No website listed so will follow link to reviews - scanned the first few reviews - okay maybe that will work next week when i go out with Granmda =  but no location - so goto google search for Vaso's kitchen alexandria - humm 1225 Powhatan St, Alexandria, VA 22314  - that's not old town - go back read more of reviews - oh looking at header "Greek in North Alexandria - Chef Vaso Volioti in the Former Dixie Pig and Bistro Lafayette Spaces"  dont' have any idea what those former palces are or where but the listing said old town - ah half way down (Glad only one page of reviews) there is second location on king street - back to google search "Vaso's kitchen king street alexandria" ah there it is - oh look a web page  http://www.vasosonking.com/  1118 King St  -  okay will keep that in mind for dinner with grandma 
  back to dinner for tonight)
 Le Fefuge - (Our friends Brook and Andrea like that, it is their anniversary place, but we went there once the food was okay but not great and the service was awful to us, and really seemed to only want locals, so probally not going there, besides want somewhere new)
  Daniel O'Connell's ( been there decent fish and chips - oh fish and chips, maybe we shodul goto Eamonds no wait want something new, besides wasn't O'Connells closed - oh web site still active, must have just been for a refurbish or private party when I saw that it was closed one time walking by)
  A la lucia - goto web site, goto directions, look at map - oh he's meeting me at king street and that's a bit far off for him to walk/ trolly, I might be able to get him to goto Braddock - oh wait taking bus to king street - okay maybe some other time
  Casa Rosada - gelato - no I want dinner not gelato
  Fontaine - love it, but want someplace new - oh hey Alana is back in town (took her there) need to drop her an email and plan dinner)
  La Bergerie - goto web site - deal with music playing - gurrr - oh that is the place next to Overwood we keep meaning to try - okay
 
--  
So maybe making sure that there is a fixed post at the top of each review page with address or that it is included in review title
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So maybe making sure that there is a fixed post at the top of each review page with address or that it is included in review title

This is the most useful post of all - the first time anyone has ever told me how they use the guide. I'm thinking of putting the website, twitter account, address, phone number, and a Google map in the first post of each thread. (You can imagine how much work this would be for several thousand restaurants, so I might do it in the order of most-views to least-views.) I might even include a couple "alternate choices."

Look at what I've done to Fontaine's entry in the dining guide - does that type of thing help you?

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FYI

The successor to city Eats was not a viable option for us.  We are back on Open table and will just take the fee hit in the shorts.  But a high fee for a lot of reservations is not as expensive as a low fee and being hard to book because people don't know how to find you.

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I know the hate there is for Open Table but I love it.

I love the app on my blackberry (how old school is that?) that will tell which 20 restaurants near me has immediate availability.

I love that on the website I can enter the address of a hotel for my upcoming business trip and find out what is within 1/4 mile of the hotel.

I love not having to make phone calls.

The number of not-Open Table places I eat at is minimal because of that.

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FYI

The successor to city Eats was not a viable option for us.  We are back on Open table and will just take the fee hit in the shorts.  But a high fee for a lot of reservations is not as expensive as a low fee and being hard to book because people don't know how to find you.

You've just refuted Say's Law of Markets in one paragraph.

I know it doesn't help you, but this too shall pass.

OpenTable is consumer-friendly (witness booklovingbabe's post) while sticking it to restaurants, who have no choice - this is because they have a monopoly and can do whatever they please, but monopolies don't last forever. OpenTable will lower their prices when they're pressured to, and when they have to, and probably not a day before.

Dean, if you can answer, what made the CityEats successor not viable? I suspect if it isn't viable for you, it isn't viable for other restaurants.

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The lack of a landing page and search ability once they closed down the City Eats portal is on big factor.

But the kicker was when they updated the soft ware, functionality changed how it was working.  When you would call for support, it was clear that no one there understood the platform.  I have really never dealt with as embarrassing situation as this transition.

We lost control of our booking several times.

You would show the help desk person how a functionality was not working and they would tell you it was, not know how to read the information off the system.  I mean how can you call into the help desk, and they not know how to read the slots available.

Or not recognize that the behavior of their software changed with no action on my part in resetting anything.  I did not touch the backend and the system behaved in wildly different fashion.

Then when they did make a temporary fix, what they said they did was not what they did.

To call it amateur hour is to insult amateurs everywhere.

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IMO City Eats wanted out and they dumped it cheap.... and the new owners put exactly no thought into it.  I just now got an email from them about how to ask for support and I am supposed to read a help desk manual where on page 9 is a trouble shooting chart for determining the severity level of the complaint.  FUCK THAT SHIT***

*** = A term used quite commonly in the back of the house when vendors are total doofuses.  

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IMO City Eats wanted out and they dumped it cheap.... and the new owners put exactly no thought into it.  I just now got an email from them about how to ask for support and I am supposed to read a help desk manual where on page 9 is a trouble shooting chart for determining the severity level of the complaint.  FUCK THAT SHIT***

*** = A term used quite commonly in the back of the house when vendors are total doofuses.  

I just got off the phone with an old college friend who told me, about the business world, "Customer service is the rarest commodity there is."

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IMO City Eats wanted out and they dumped it cheap.... and the new owners put exactly no thought into it.  I just now got an email from them about how to ask for support and I am supposed to read a help desk manual where on page 9 is a trouble shooting chart for determining the severity level of the complaint.  FUCK THAT SHIT***

*** = A term used quite commonly in the back of the house when vendors are total doofuses.  

I just noticed that the delivery service beyondmenu.com seems to offer a reservation service as well. There may be several delivery services that do this, but I've never really noticed before now.

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We have a reservation at a restaurant later today that was made on Yelp SeatMe.  I accessed it by clicking a link on the restaurant's website.  This reservation service may be familiar to others, but it was the first time I'd encountered it.

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We have a reservation at a restaurant later today that was made on Yelp SeatMe.  I accessed it by clicking a link on the restaurant's website.  This reservation service may be familiar to others, but it was the first time I'd encountered it.

See, this is going to be something like how it all ends up - a fixed fee that won't break restaurateurs. The reservation system of the future (and it may well be this one) is just not going to be that expensive because there's too much competition. OpenTable had a monopoly, and those days are going ... going ... thing is, though, it's going to take a popular website - like Yelp - to do this because diners are going to want to go to a centralized location on the web. Don't be surprised to see this at TripAdvisor, Zagat, etc. as well. I know that some restaurateurs would prefer that everything is based off of their own websites, but that's just not realistic. My guess is that five years from now, we won't see 1 player, and we won't see 100 major players; we'll see maybe 5-10 because the companies are going to need a critical mass of customers to stay in business. I'd say "First To Market" would be an advantage here, but OpenTable and CityEats were; perhaps "First To Market" with whatever simplified, inexpensive system is going to be used going forward.

I also suspect that, like with telephones (remember how long distance calls from your land line used to cost over $1 a minute sometimes?), things that were expensive will become nominal in cost, but the companies will figure out how to extract money from restaurants in other ways (I suspect we spend just as much on telephones now as we did thirty years ago, maybe even more).

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In general, I much prefer using a service like Open Table over clicking a link on an individual restaurant's website.  In this particular case, I was specifically targeting this restaurant for making a reservation, so clicking the link on their site was fine.  However, more often than not, I just want to pull up a list of restaurants in a particular area or areas, that have openings on a certain date and time.  Open Table is really easy to use for that more common scenario.  In addition, even if I know which specific restaurant I want to reserve, I will still go to OT over the restaurant's website to make the reservation because I get points on Open Table that result in credit that I can use to pay for a meal at any OT restaurant when I've earned enough points.  Over time, I've earned hundreds of dollars in credit.

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I just got off the phone with an old college friend who told me, about the business world, "Customer service is the rarest commodity there is."

Truth. My alarm guy (yes I have one) is so good with customer service that I rave about him on my neighborhood email list. I switched vendors at my office to him despite the fact I was going to be his first customer in Montgomery County as a result.

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