An Open Apology to Ludo and Krissy Lefebvre + LudoBites Lovers, from OpenTable

If you don’t know what LudoBites is, well, you should. It’s a dining sensation that’s single-handedly sweeping the City of Angels. A pop-up restaurant executed in sheer guerilla style by renowned chef Ludo Lefebvre and his wife/partner in culinary crime Krissy (aka FrenchChefWife), LudoBites has become the hottest, tastiest ticket in Los Angeles.

As you may imagine, the Lefebvres experience enormous demand for the unique dining experiences that are the roving LudoBites events. OpenTable stepped up to help them answer that demand in a democratic and efficient manner (first come, first reserved, if you will). However, while using our system for their latest event, LudoBites 6.0, all did not go according to plan.

We apologize to the Lefebvres and all of the diners who experienced technical problems while trying to book reservations for LudoBites 6.0 last night. LudoBites is a phenomenon that concentrates unprecedented reservation demand for a single restaurant with a limited number of tables in a very short window of time. We had a plan for how to customize our service to accommodate the extraordinary search volume for LudoBites 6.0, but we didn’t implement that plan properly. The traffic overwhelmed our systems, and some hopeful diners experienced intermittent problems until the restaurant was fully booked after less than 90 minutes.

OpenTable was built with the idea that securing a dining reservation should be effortless. We didn’t live up to that promise under the unique conditions of LudoBites, and we’ll be taking a closer look at our processes to ensure we deliver a consistently high-quality experience in the future.

To learn more about the talented Chef Lefebvre and the one-of-a-kind LudoBites, please visit LudoLefebvre.com.

23 Responses to “An Open Apology to Ludo and Krissy Lefebvre + LudoBites Lovers, from OpenTable”

  1. Bill

    This hopeful diner experienced continuous problems, not intermittent ones until the restaurant was sold out — mostly messages that the restaurant was offline, but also also messages, and, most annoyingly, fgetting through a couple of times, being told that all dates were full, when according to twitter reports from Ludobites and others, it wasn’t true. I was told it was sold out about 45 minutes before it was, and was trying for a specific date was was still open (as well as any others.)

    Did any diners not experience problems?

  2. Dale

    The biggest apologies need to go to the “non”diners. Those who didn’t get a reservation. I was able to get select a time a couple of times but was never successful in making a reservation. Thus, I am not a diner as I don’t have a reservation. Might I suggest that Chef Ludo and Krissy use a service such as EventBrite or Brown Paper tickets and charge for a reservation. The ticket would actually be a voucher that you could apply towards the cost of your meal. I’m sure that would also cut down on the number of cancellations as well. Only serious diners need apply. I’m certainly going to try to get in on the walk-in table. I hope I don’t have to camp out the night before.

  3. Jay

    I tried since 5pm until 6:30, refreshing every second, and still failed to reserve one. Thanks for ruining day.

  4. Jay

    Bill: I experienced exact same messages/situations and miserably failed

  5. Jeff

    Aside from the troubles with the reservation system, why open the res at 5 PM? Most people in the industry who want to get a res are probably busy prepping for the evening, or have already started seating guests. It’s hard to ask your chef for a day off so that you “can get a reservation at Ludo”.

  6. Brad

    Never understood all the hubub about this. So you’re saying that it’s a pain, and it’s trying, to get a reservation at the….toughest place to get a reservation in the US? Seems about right, right? Regardless of how hard it is to get a reservation, the same number of reservations were available. So, the same number of people would have been frustrated that they didn’t get a spot – the only thing to be improved upon is the speed at which the reservations can be booked. And geez, they even put in a communal table. Quit your whining!

  7. Kate

    I was really disappointed with Open Table as well. I tried from 5 until after 6:30 when I saw that all the slots were filled using 2 different types of browser. I got in a few times only to get a message that the restaurant was offline, the dates were filled or that someone else had taken the reservation times showed to me because I was too slow. I have been an Open Table user for over 6 years and have never had this bad of an experience with the site but I don’t plan on using it right now – in fact I canceled a reservation today and called to make another reservation instead of using Open Table. I hope that I’ll have luck with a cancellation or with 7.0!

  8. joelle

    You had to know you were never going to have enough bandwidth for this, which means you are grasping at any reason you can that this didn’t work. I am an idiot and I could have told you it was going to fail the second you started. Shame on you for lying to the Lefebvres just to sell your service. Now you look like a-holes and everyone thinks you suck. You should have just declined the job.

  9. Bill Smith

    I experienced the same were I got to actually choose an ‘available’ time then got an error message. Unacceptable. As a public company reporting earnings in a couple weeks, sadly this is just a blip. Hopefully the good news for the Lefebvres is that they get OpenTable services for free as SLA’s (service level agreements) were clearly not met.

    More good news is that this created the impetus for me to create a viable competitor to OpenTable (savetable, livebookings, etc. are weak), and we won’t be using product development leads from tech giants like ‘Clorox’. The door is wide open!

  10. Liz

    folks need to stop being so bitter. diners attempting to make a reservation for LudoBites should have known that it was going to be a nightmare and go into it with a mentality as if one was buying a Radiohead concert ticket. I.e. there was going to be a strong chance one may not come up a winner. sure….when I went thru the process yesterday I was extremely frustrated and angry @ the reservation system I just kept hitting refresh. i knew the odds were against me. but after an hour of trying I did get a reservation.

  11. Kevin

    So now I’m going to have to try my luck and wait probably 2 hours to get an outdoor seat. Lame.

  12. Richard

    the frustrating part is getting through to the choose a date part & then having your connection drop. open table should look into the ticketmaster system, where once you make a connection you are locked in for a designated period of time so you have a chance to complete your reservation.

    obviously not everyone is going to get through but there should also be a way to queue visitors so they are just waiting in virtual line.

    just some suggestions.

  13. Matt

    If you know anything about technology and the way the inter web works, you’ll understand how this can happen. I’ve had nothing but good experiences from Opentable. Except one time, when a restaurant wasn’t open on Sunday but I was allowed to make a reservation, but I don’t think you can blame OT for that one. Even ticket master, while they are a company known for being an evil corporate empire, have issues with their servers on high demand tickets.

    I do like the idea of charging tickets for ressys, and that ticket goes towards your final tab. Who knows how many people don’t plan on honoring their reservations. I know people who created different accounts just to make multiple reservations!

    I will admit, it was frustrating to say the very least. I’ve tried a couple of times now to get a table at LudoBites with no luck, but there are hundreds of thousands of people who love to eat in this town. And they can only serve so many of us. To the lucky few, enjoy your meal.

  14. kevinEats

    Building upon the ticket idea previously mentioned, how about implementing a system similar to what Grant Achatz is doing for his Next Restaurant, wherein the tickets account for the *full price* of the meal? Definitely would curb cancellations.

    From http://nextrestaurant.com/faq.html:

    “Tickets?
    Yes. Instead of reservations our bookings will be made more like a theater or a sporting event. Your tickets will be fully inclusive of all charges, including service. Ticket price will depend on which seating you buy – Saturday at 8 PM will be more expensive than Wednesday at 9:30 PM. This will allow us to offer an amazing experience at a very reasonable price. We will also offer an annual subscription to all four menus at a discount with preferred seating.
    Two walk-in tables will be available every evening.
    The tickets will be available via our website, and we are building the reservation system from scratch to ensure the best customer experience. It will be simple to use, efficient, and familiar to anyone who has booked a show or travel online.”

  15. Lulu

    I don’t mind not getting a reservation because of high demand: There are only so many tables, so many available dates, and I knew that when I started the 90-minute exercise.

    What was frustrating was that even after getting through and selecting an available reservation slot **three times** OpenTable flaked out each time and I wasn’t able to complete a reservation. And I know that it wasn’t because of a connection problem on my end of things.

    It’s one thing not to be able to get through, whether it’s by telephone or a web browser; it’s another thing to get through and have OpenTable effectively hang up on me, not once but thrice. Ouch.

    No gripes about the Lefebvres, though. I have the sense they’re struggling with how to make this work as much as all of us are, and I look forward to a LudoBites dinner some time in my future.

  16. Grand

    I thought I was in for sure, I got to pick a date and time and then Open Table said it was offline, then went back in and found other dates and times and click those and waited 30 seconds and it was unavailable. I started at 4:45pm to 6pm. I was quite frustrated! My friend also was trying to book a table, she never got thru once to set a date.

    Overall a frustrating hour, waste of time. But good luck Ludobites 6.0, I hope to try it soon. I loved 5.0! So I expect to be blown away again. Have a great time everyone who got a reservation. If Kevineats didn’t get one, then I don’t feel so bad.

    For those of you who read this, check out this place called Petrossian. I just went to dinela dinner tasting. It was very yummy! Everything was yummy! I want to go back.

  17. Michael

    Some of you are not understanding that for many of us, the frustration of not getting to eat at LudoBites is one that we accepted as possible when attempting to get a reservation. What we didn’t count on was giving away 90 minutes of our lives in the effort. For events that sell out instantly on Ticketmaster, you know within five minutes if you are going or not. But because the OpenTable system was buggy and could not handle the bandwidth, those of us seeking reservations at LudoBites gave up way too much time, whether or not we actually got a reservation.

    It’s this problem that needs to be remedied, not the problem of LudoBites being too popular to seat everyone who wants to eat. Good for them! The earlier suggestions of moving to a different service, charging for a reservation, etc. are very good. In addition, LudoBites should consider doing a tasting menu only style popup, or increasing the price because of the high demand.

    I and many others understand this is a lottery. So why can’t I just get a ticket and pray instead of having to waste ninety minutes furiously clicking buttons?

  18. Rob

    I concur with Ludo’s tweet, “Very classy of OpenTable to apologize.” It’s better than not apologizing. *Ahem* Apple for the lot of faulty iPhone 4 antenna (http://www.slate.com/id/2260465). They just acknowledge the issue and offer free phone cases. No real apology.

    Stop complaining people, as OT said, “If you don’t know what LudoBites is, well, you should.” Then you should know about the high demand and probability of not getting a reservation. So chill out and provide some constructive feedback.

    Btw, jumping service isn’t going to solve anything. OT is probably on the issue and will fix and improve the software. Everything else works fine.

  19. Trey

    I don’t know what makes me madder, not getting a res to Ludo Bites when I spent 2 continuous hours trying (from just before 5pm to 7pm), or that Open Table makes this half-assed apology that really means nothing. Seriously, I understand there is high demand for Ludo Bites but how could Open Table have not been prepared for it? Just one big joke. If you know there will be high demand, how can you not try and be prepared for it? Whoever runs Open Table obviously does not have any foresight and must like to just do things on the fly with a devil may care attitude. I wish I could have a job where I could be unprepared and then just say, oops, sorry…my bad. Great, that means so much to me. Who cares if people didn’t get reservations because the system was glitchy and we just wasted 2 hours of our life we’ll never get back. At least open table apologized to Ludo and wis wife and then as an after thought apologized to all the people they screwed over….(sarcasm)

    I’ve been using Open Table for the last year and recommending it to friends and others as it was reliable, seemed like the site was well thought out and easy to use and I liked the concept. I can’t say that anymore. Never mind, Open Table obviously does not care about it’s customers. If they did, they wouldn’t have offered an apology that is not really an apology at all. If they really cared about us (the customers), they would have offered to try and fix the situation, or give us a real apology that actually meant something.

    I’d love it if someone from Open Table could tell me why I should still use them, or actually show me that they really did appreciate us (the customers). Until that day (which will probably be never), I will spread the word not to use Open Table and just start making my reservations over the phone (like a normal person, and like we all should). Hopefully other pop up restaurants will actually use a site that works and will be prepared for the onslaught of reservations for an event like this.

    If Ludo and Krissy are reading this (I’m the guy who gave you part of a bottle of ’95 Haut Brion), I love your food and just hope the next time you do reservations you won’t use Open Table and will use a site that actually works. I’d also like to say the other way to do it would be selling tickets like they do for Next in Chicago. I am truly bummed I won’t get to try you this time around.

  20. Joe

    While I also understand the challenges of getting a reservation for the ever-more-popular Ludobites, Open Table really let me down this time. Like many of the other posts here, I tried for over an hour and a half. During that time, I was able to get through to the reservation system 9 different times. Each of those times I was kicked out, either after selecting a date, or after selecting a time. I also experienced being told that there were no times available for the date I chose, even though Krissy & Ludo were tweeting that those dates were only partially booked.

    In the end, I was unable to secure a reservation. Perhaps it would be more understandable to me if I had never been able to access the reservations at all. But to “get in” and then be “kicked out” repeatedly is not acceptable.

    I appreciate the apology issued by Open Table, but it will ring hollow with me until I see that the problem has been solved when Ludobites 7.0 rolls around. That is if Krissy & Ludo choose to give them another chance!

  21. Peter

    I would have been happy with ANY day or time, just for the opportunity to try Ludo Bites. Why not make THAT an option next time? So we don’t have to search the entire calendar one day and time period at a time?

    I tried for 90 minutes and ended up with nothing.

  22. nate

    Same thing for 7.0 today, I logged on promptly at 4, all tables were gone. Was there some kind of priority early reservation? Very disappointed. Did anyone get through?

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