Come Join Us at OpenTable

At OpenTable, we power great dining experiences, but the best thing about OpenTable isn’t the places we are or the products we make; it’s the people who work here. And now, you can get to know them in our new video —  and discover why we think OpenTable is a truly special company.

There are many reasons the folks you’re about to meet love being at OpenTable every day: the opportunity to work in an organization that is equally passionate about both restaurants and technology; the satisfaction that comes with producing the tools restaurants need to provide diners with amazing hospitality experiences; and, of course, the chance to create and implement groundbreaking technologies.

Once you get here, you’ll see that we are passionate about all kinds of things, from amazing food and drink to personal pursuits that spill over into the professional. Yes, we really did have a Kentucky Derby race in the office. We really do have engineers who make mouthwatering waffles and build bespoke coffee bars — along with a CEO who really can catch flies with his bare hands. And, this really is a company that embraces you from the minute you walk in the door (and we’re not just talking about Alex!).

Watch for a look at our San Francisco headquarters, meet a few of our team members, and then apply to take a seat at our table. http://www.opentable.com/careers/

Stephanie Douglass is Senior Director, People + Culture, at OpenTable.

What’s in Store for Restaurants in 2015?

grains blog Whats in Store for Restaurants in 2015?2015 is here, and it’s made us start wondering what the next year has in store for the restaurant industry. To find out, we gathered predictions from some of the most influential people in the business: chefs, restaurateurs, editors, and more. From menus and cocktails to service and technology, here are the trends they expect to see play out this year. Read on, then tell us in the comments: what are your predictions?

FAST CASUAL

“Star chefs known for the power of their personal vision will open up fast casual: Dave Chang, Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson, Josh Skenes, Jose Andres. We’ll be eating better burgers and vegetables, quickly.” — Dana Cowin, Editor-in-Chief, Food & Wine

By far, the most common prediction among industry leaders is a revolution of traditional fast-food restaurants, and a growing interest in casual, affordable dining from top-tier chefs.

As Union Square Hospitality Group CEO Danny Meyer tells us, “Everyone wants to be the Chipotle of (fill in the blank).” Author Ruth Reichl added that chefs are addressing a serious problem by offering affordable food in underserved neighborhoods. “I think that’s going to mushroom and they’re going to be really successful,” she notes.

COMPENSATION 

“I don’t know if this will truly be a trend, but my heart holds out hope for it: better pay for cooks.” — Francis Lam, food writer and judge, Top Chef Masters 

With some restaurants eliminating tipping and exploring alternative methods of compensation, fair pay continues to be a hot topic in the industry. Corney Burns and Nick Balla of San Francisco’s Bar Tartine tell us, “We see restaurants moving away from tipping, coming up with alternative ways to compensate staff.”

GRAINS

“I expect to see more awareness and discussion of monocultivar grains in the coming year. I was just involved in a film called The Grain Divide with such chefs and experts as Michael Pollan, Dan Barber, Chad Robertson, Marc Vetri, Sean Brock, and more regarding the benefits of small mills over mass-produced product and its effect on health and flavor profiles.” — Michael Tusk, Chef/Owner, Quince and Cotogna

In 2014, whole grains were popular on menus and cookbooks alike — and 2015 should be no different, as chefs rediscover a variety of heirloom and specialty grains.

“Rye was the big grain of 2014. I predict chefs will explore other grains for breads, pastas, and, especially, desserts.” — Izabela Wojcik, Director of House Programming, James Beard Foundation  Continue reading…

January Restaurant Weeks: New Year, New Ways to Save

LTPR January Restaurant Weeks: New Year, New Ways to SaveGet ready for a month of nationwide deliciousness with restaurant weeks in more than 30 cities. Make a reservation to dine for less in January!

* Marin County Restaurant Month started on the first of the year! Enjoy happy hour specials and unique menus, January 1-31. Reserve now.

* Charleston Restaurant Week has kicked off. Dig into delish prix-fixe lunches + dinners, January 7-18. Reserve now.

* Sacramento Dine Downtown Restaurant Week offers up three-course $31 dinners, January 15-24. Reserve now.

* Restaurant Week South Carolina has what you crave with creative, prix-fixe three-course dinners, January 8-18. Reserve now.

Virginia Beach Restaurant Week serves up gourmet $10 lunches + $20 or $30 dinners, January 10-19. Reserve now.

* Galveston Restaurant Week has something for everyone with $10, $15, $20, $25, $30, $35, and $40 menus, January 10-24. Reserve now.

* Providence Restaurant Weeks brings you three-course $14.95 lunches and $29.95 + $34.95 dinners, January 11-24. Reserve now.

Restaurant Week Columbus has three-course meals for $15-$25, January 12-17. Reserve now.

* Pittsburgh Restaurant Week invites you to dine on specially priced three-course meals, January 12-18. Reserve now.

Sacramento Dine Downtown Restaurant Week beckons with three-course $31 dinners, January 15-24. Reserve now.

* Oakland Restaurant Week features oh-so-good $20, $30, and $40 lunches + dinners, January 15-25. Reserve now.

* Kansas City Restaurant Week presents $15 lunches and $33 dinners, January 16-25. Reserve now.

Dine Out Vancouver has mouthwatering $18, 28, and $38 dinners, January 16-February 1. Reserve now.

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Announcing the Inaugural San Francisco Restaurant Week, 1/21-30 #SFRW

SF RestaurantWeek400pw Announcing the Inaugural San Francisco Restaurant Week, 1/21 30 #SFRWOpenTable is thrilled to partner with The Golden Gate Restaurant Association for the inaugural San Francisco Restaurant Week. Formerly known as Dine About Town, the all-new San Francisco Restaurant Week will take place January 21-30 and feature offerings from more than 100 restaurants in 23 neighborhoods serving 24 different cuisines — with two exciting options.

The classic restaurant week prix-fixe menu goes into overdrive with one-of-a-kind $25 two-course lunches and $40 three-course dinners — plus added treats such as an amuse-bouche, a paired beverage, an after-meal takeaway, or other yummy extras. New participants include Bartlett HallChino, and Le Marais Bakery and Bistro.

Available at select restaurants, chefs’ imaginations run wild with the special $85 discovery menu highlighting inspired food and beverage pairings. Hog & Rocks is partnering with High West Whiskey to feature a whiskey-themed dinner. Canela Bistro Bar will create a culinary tour through Spain with a special wine pairing. AQ Restaurant & Bar will offer a roots-themed tasting menu highlighting winter root vegetables set to music by The Roots. Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar will be serving signature beverages alongside a tasting menu and a seasonal produce-inspired dessert to end the night.

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Introducing the New OpenTable Restaurant Resources Site + Blog

MKT OpenforBusiness black user Introducing the New OpenTable Restaurant Resources Site + BlogAt OpenTable, we’re ringing in 2015 with some exciting new projects and resources for restaurants. Here’s a peek at what we have now, and what’s still to come.

Our new restaurant site tells you everything you need to know about working with OpenTable, starting with an overview of our key solutions for running a restaurant: Guest Center, Payments, and Copilot insights, to name a few. You’ll also find customer success stories, an ROI calculator to help you measure success, and an introduction to the team behind the products and services. Existing customers can sign in to manage their accounts, too.

Plus, we’re thrilled to announce the launch of our new restaurant blog, Open for Business! Here, we’re turning our attention to the business behind “the business,” featuring tips, tricks, and fresh ideas from top restaurateurs, editors, and experts on how to run a restaurant successfully. Since we’re proud to partner with the best restaurants in the industry, we want to share their knowledge and expertise and start new conversations within this community — from hiring great staff and tracking food cost to building an international restaurant empire. Here’s what you’ll find:

Ruth Reichl on What Restaurants Should Know About Food Critics (& How to Spot One): An interview with author and former restaurant critic Ruth Reichl about what makes great service, dealing with negative reviews, and how to spot a critic.

How to Open a Restaurant, Part 1: Building a Brand Identity: Restaurant consultant Alison Arth has led 13 restaurant openings to date and is currently working with Gavin Kaysen’s team at Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis. This is her first post in a 10-part series of best practices for launching a new concept.

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SeaBlue Restaurant & Wine Bar’s Ken Norcutt Talks #DinersChoice Win, Rave Reviews + Pappy Van Winkle

 SeaBlue Restaurant & Wine Bars Ken Norcutt Talks #DinersChoice Win, Rave Reviews + Pappy Van WinkleThis week, OpenTable announced the 2014 Diners’ Choice Awards for Top 100 Restaurants in America. Perched atop the list is SeaBlue Restaurant & Wine Bar, a revelation that surprised Ken Norcutt, chef-owner of the restaurant, but one which he chalks up to consistency in service, creativity of cuisine – and experience. Located in the tiny-yet-tony resort town of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, SeaBlue has been open for a decade. Norcutt is a lifelong restaurant professional. He says, “I’ve been in the restaurant business since I was 14 years old, doing one aspect or another, from busboy to server to bartender to working back of the house to doing banquets. I’ve always had two jobs, and a restaurant was always my second job.”

He began working behind the bar at SeaBlue in 2007, and by the next year, he had purchased the restaurant, revamping its concept and energizing its wine and cocktail programs; the wine list recently earned a 2014 Wine Spectator Best Award of Excellence. Initially, SeaBlue served tapas-style cuisine, with a shallow menu of just 10 items or so. Norcutt wanted to up SeaBlue’s game, and so he upped the menu, greatly expanding it with an array of USDA prime steaks and wagyu cuts. He also serves seafood, with a strong emphasis on local product. New in the past year are oysters. Norcutt estimates he shucked almost 20,000 this season. They are sourced from Virginia – pungoteagues and olde salts – and North Carolina and are complemented with seasonal mignonettes and savory sorbets. “I also do an oysters Rockefeller with applewood smoked bacon, braised spinach, a little panko, and a béarnaise aioli on top, and they’ve been very popular. I think most of my regulars say it’s the best oysters Rockefeller they’ve ever had,” says Norcutt.

SeaBlue Cheese copy SeaBlue Restaurant & Wine Bars Ken Norcutt Talks #DinersChoice Win, Rave Reviews + Pappy Van WinkleLike most of this year’s other Diners Choice Award-winning restaurants, SeaBlue has embraced the artisanal cheese boom, serving a cheese course selected from a rotating inventory of 20 wheels of carefully curated cheeses from around the world that are aged in house. The artful plates, which are accompanied by jams, jellies, nuts, local honeys, and aged vinegar gastriques, have drawn recent attention from Cheese Connoisseur magazine. Norcutt’s latest cheese crush is Shropshire. Made from cow’s milk, Shropshire is semi-soft and similar to Stilton despite its orange-y hue. “It really stands out on the plate – and it’s the perfect blend of the saltiness of a blue cheese and the sharpness of a cheddar. And, we balance that all out by serving it with fig vincotto,” he notes.

North Myrtle Beach has, according to Norcutt, just 15,000 or so permanent residents, but in tourist season, that number swells considerably as 15 million visitors swarm the small beach town. He observes, “Historically, the emphasis in Myrtle Beach dining has been about buffets and chains, and that’s what has allowed SeaBlue to stand out. It is one of only about four or five restaurants that are really trying to change the scene and source from local farms as much as possible.” As the area grows in popularity as a vacation destination, its food culture is growing, too. “There’s a climate change here when it comes to the culinary scene. You’re seeing the buffets and the feeding troughs closing and these new places, like Fire & Smoke gastropub, opening.”

In a field of more than 20,000 restaurants, Norcutt was shocked and elated to find his establishment in the top spot. “When [OpenTable account manager] Page Stokes emailed me last Friday, I think I cried a little bit,” he admits. “We were just hoping to get into the top 100 again this year. And when she said we were the number one restaurant, I was speechless. I’m so glad people reviewed us and said how much they enjoy it here. We’re just a small little restaurant in a small little town; we do what we do and hope everything falls into place. It’s such an honor to be in the company on that list.”

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OpenTable Reviews Reveal #DinersChoice Top 100 Best Restaurants in America — Top 10 Ranked

As we cheer the end of another year of delicious dining, we are pleased to celebrate the 2014 Diners’ Choice Award winners for the Top 100 Best Restaurants in America and highlight the Top 10 honorees. These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 20,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The Top 10 Best Restaurants in America, in rank order, include:

  1. SeaBlue Restaurant & Wine Bar – North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  2. Sushi Nakazawa-Sushi Bar – New York, New York
  3. Fearrington House Restaurant – Pittsboro, North Carolina
  4. n/naka – Los Angeles, California
  5. St. Francis Winery & Vineyards – Santa Rosa, California
  6. Ski Tip Lodge – Keystone, Colorado
  7. Twenty Eight Atlantic at Wequassett Resort – East Harwich, Massachusetts
  8. Kai – Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort – Chandler, Arizona
  9. The French Room – Dallas Texas
  10. Highlands Bar and Grill – Birmingham, Alabama

The Top 10 Best Restaurants in America are as diverse as our appetites, from intimate and sleek newcomer Sushi Nakazawa with just 25 seats to the lively, perennially revered 124-seat Highlands Bar and Grill. What they all share is an unmatched level of consistency and attention to detail, which can be found in their superior service, careful sourcing of local ingredients, and commitment to excellence and hospitality.

Lauding both recently opened as well as longstanding restaurants that feature everything from à la carte to intricate tasting menus, the complete list includes award winners in 32 states and Washington,D.C., such as Eleven Madison Park in New York, Laurel in Philadelphia, and Saison in San Francisco. There are 35 repeat winners from 2013, eight of which again cracked the top 10, and 65 new honorees.

New York has the greatest number of winners with 12, followed by California and Florida with eight each; North Carolina and Pennsylvania with six apiece; and Oregon and Texas earning five each. Illinois has four, and Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Nebraska, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Virginia all have three winners. Colorado, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, Tennessee, and Washington have two award winners apiece. Alaska, Alabama, Connecticut, Kansas, Maryland, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin are also represented.

Dinner-only restaurants dominate the list, with 59 winners. While American fare restaurants are most popular, the eclectic array of cuisines on the list includes global, Hawaiian, Italian, Japanese, seafood, Thai, and vegan. More than 25 percent of honorees indicate they offer gluten-free options.

While new restaurants make a strong showing with 14 opening in 2014, including vegan eatery Modern Love, well-established restaurants performed remarkably well: 25 winning restaurants are more than 20 years old. Approximately twenty percent of the list includes restaurants located at a property of historical significance.

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#Hellastorm Affecting San Francisco: Please Call to Confirm a Restaurant Is #OpeninSF

San Francisco is experiencing severe weather and some areas are without power. While most restaurants are open for business, due to the intense nature of the storm, we encourage diners to phone restaurants to confirm reservations until conditions improve.

We wish everyone affected by this storm a safe few days.

Christmas Eve Dining: 15 Rave Reviews for the Feast of the Seven Fishes

bouill blog Christmas Eve Dining: 15 Rave Reviews for the Feast of the Seven FishesSure, we’re just now able to button our pants after last week’s indulgent Thanksgiving dinner and, yet, we’re already dreaming of more holiday dining. If you’re of Italian descent, or if you just LOVE Italian cuisine (which we know you do), you’re probably familiar with the Christmas Eve culinary tradition of the feast of the seven fishes. A delicious ritual that began in southern Italy, the feast of the seven fishes has ties to Catholicism and the practice of eschewing meat on Christmas Eve. Restaurants have embraced the custom, offering up gourmet spins on different fish dishes to diners on December 24. My family and I indulged at Oceana last year, and every bite was pious perfection. Find out what other diners had to say about their experiences with this fabulous holiday treat — and book your feast of the seven fishes reservations for Christmas Eve. More than just being delicious and festive, the meal is said to bring luck in the new year. 

Bar Eolo: Sicilian Kitchen & Wines, New York, New York: “Our family came here for the feast of the seven fishes on Christmas Eve and had a delightful dinner. The seafood lovers in the family enjoyed it the most, of course, but everyone managed to find something to their taste. The recommended wine was delicious and reasonably priced and the restaurant was very festive with friendly service — a great evening!”

Bella Tuscany, Windermere, Florida: ”Bella Tuscany has had consistently good reviews and they lived up to their reputation on Christmas Eve with both their full menu and the fixed price (or a la carte) feast of the seven fishes. The five-course menu included generous servings of lobster bisque, scallops, a seafood linguini course with mussels, clams, and calamari, and a main course of mahi mahi and super-sweet lobster tail. Bella finished the evening with tiramisu and the creativity, presentation, and preparation were all right on.”

Bimini Twist, West Palm Beach, Florida: ”The family went to Bimini Twist to celebrate the feast of the seven fishes. The restaurant had a great selection of fish dishes. The service was unreal…perfect. We had a GREAT waitress, bolstered by other wait staff. This restaurant is a definite stop again when in the area.”

* Blue Water Grill, New York, New York: “Blue Water Grill was open on Christmas Eve, which was a godsend as I was hosting my family for the holiday. I reserved the table a couple days in advance, ensuring a spot. We ate in the main dining room, and it was great. Surrounded by other families celebrating the holidays, the overall ambiance was warm. The food was great and diverse. With traditional Christmas fare, oysters, sushi and even a feast of the seven fishes special, everyone in my family was happy.”

Cinghiale Osteria, Baltimore, Maryland: ”With my mother-in-law in town, my wife and I booked for the Christmas Eve feast at Cinghiale, which was the executive chef’s interpretation of a Christmas Eve fish feast. The feast was seven courses of absolute perfection. It is rare to encounter seafood prepared to perfection with consistency; usually it is overcooked and rubbery, but every dish was absolutely perfect, from the oyster starter to the fish filet (with perfectly prepared melt-in-your-mouth calimari). We loved every second of it.”

Fiola, Washington, D.C.: “My husband and I celebrated his birthday (Christmas Eve) at Fiola for the second time. Their feast of seven fishes is MAGNIFICENT! We splurged and got the wine pairing. Our server (who we knew from Fiola and Poste) was amazingly knowledgeable of both the food (preparation, what made each dish unique) and the wine. She was always present when each course was served, to give an overview of the dish and why the pairing was perfect. We had a wonderful experience, and would highly recommend the feast and pairing for future Christmas Eves!”

Imperial, Portland, Oregon: ”Christmas Eve dinner with good friends and a meal fit for the three kings. The traditional feast of seven fishes” needs to make it to the main menu, this was one of the best executed Cioppinos I’ve ever had with a sauce that begged for the house bread to soak it up. Few establishments truly enjoy being open on a holiday night, but the staff of the Imperial expressed only joy. This has become a new tradition with many more visits in-between. Well done, Imperial!”

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OpenTable’s Website: Re-designed, Re-architected, Re-imagined

In 1998, we introduced diners to a brand new concept – booking restaurant reservations online. A lot has changed since then, though our website design has remained largely the same.

While the site has served us well over the years, it was time for an update. Today, the team at OpenTable is excited to launch a brand new web experience. Over the last several months, our team has been hard at work building new technology and designs that enhance the way diners discover and book restaurants on OpenTable.com.

The new site delivers a cohesive experience for diners who use OpenTable on the web, tablet, and mobile phones. It looks forward, with a scalable and flexible architecture to make it easier to introduce new features to enhance the overall dining experience. Our new search interface supports neighborhood, address, or specific restaurant names all in the same place, which means less clicking around. The design places new focus on the restaurant, bringing forward the content that inspires booking the perfect table. And after you make a reservation, we’ve made it easier to invite others and share.

Redesign OpenTable’s Website: Re designed, Re architected, Re imagined

We hope that those who have used OpenTable for years and those who have just discovered us enjoy the new site. We will be hard at work from here on out to continue to make it the best place to visit for that perfect night out.

We are always eager to hear from you, and please let us know how we can make it even better.

 Jocelyn Mangan is Senior Vice President, Consumer Product Management.