OpenTable for iOS 10: New Ways to Book, Connect, and Pay

At OpenTable, we love what happens around the table – particularly the connections. Now, the release of iOS 10 gives us new ways to connect you with great restaurants right where you search for them – and to connect with your friends to make booking a table a more social experience. Get the latest OpenTable app now, plus upgrade to iOS 10 to get going.

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OpenTable in Apple Maps: Apple Maps has always been a great way to find restaurants near you, and today it gets even better. With iOS 10, you can make OpenTable reservations without leaving the Maps app. Just find a restaurant, tap the OpenTable Reservations button; pick a time; and confirm.

The Apple Maps extension is now available in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and will be rolling out to other countries in the future.

OpenTable in iMessage: Ever wish planning a meal with friends was easier? Now, you can finally make getting to the answer of “Where should we eat?” more fun! OpenTable’s iMessage extension allows friends to suggest restaurants to try, to vote on favorites, pick a winner, and book–all directly in Messages. It’s a fun way to pick the perfect place for a date, a lunch with coworkers, or a get-together with friends.

Here’s how it works:Continue Reading

We Have a Winner! Reem Assil to Open Reem’s Arab Street Corner Bakery

We Have a Winner! Reem Assil to Open Reem's Arab Street Corner Bakery

Last spring we at OpenTable launched a contest to help one restaurateur fund his or her dream project. In conjunction with the release of our How to Open a Restaurant guide, we called on the restaurant community to tell us about the restaurant concepts they wanted to open and enter a competition to win our grand prize, worth more than $38,000 total. In August, after narrowing down the entries with the help of a trusted panel of New York restaurateurs, three finalists launched Kickstarter campaigns to raise money for their restaurant projects.

Today, we are thrilled to announce that Reem Assil is the winner of our Restaurant OPEN 2016 contest! Reem raised more than $50,000 through her 40-day Kickstarter campaign — far surpassing our $35,000 goal — and is well on her way to opening the doors to Reem’s, her Arab street corner bakery in Oakland, California.

One of the greatest things about this competition was really to help me celebrate the evolution of Reem’s over the past year,” says Reem. “I’m really fortunate that I have a backing behind me and people who really believe in Reem’s and want to see it as an anchor establishment, the way I envision it.”

The dream of Reem’s was born in a street corner bakery in Beirut, Lebanon six years ago, when the scent of za’atar, yeasted bread and sweet orange blossom syrup inspired Reem to bring the Arab bakery experience to the Bay. She worked as a community and labor organizer for a decade before dedicating herself to a culinary career and is now part of the food business incubator program, La Cocina. Offering traditional Arab street foods combining traditional flavors and local, organic ingredients, Reem aims to nurture a strong, vibrant, welcoming community in her Oakland neighborhood.

The larger work I’ve had to do — and am still really excited about doing — is being the visionary and talking about the larger project of Reem’s,” she adds. “It’s not just a food establishment, but an anchor establishment that provides really good jobs for the folks living in the community and a space for people to gather and learn about Arab culture and history and politics in a way that nobody’s ever done before.”

To recap, here’s what’s included in Reem’s prize package: 

  • A 12-month subscription to OpenTable’s flagship Guest Center product, plus access to the world’s largest diner network and a credit on cover fees
  • A full set of professional All-Clad pans 
  • A set of 25 Hedley & Bennett aprons 
  • 25 annual memberships to the online content from Journee, a community for restaurant professionals
  • $15,000 cash to put toward your project

Read on for our full Q&A with Reem below!Continue Reading

Fond in Philadelphia: Chef Lee Styer on Seven Successful Years

Fond in Philadelphia

In 2013, Food & Wine named Philadelphia’s East Passyunk Avenue one of the “Ten Best Foodie Streets in America,” and leading the list of reasons why was Fond. Started by three friends, two of whom honed their skills at the celebrated French restaurant Le Bec-Fin (and are now married), the inviting spot serves contemporary American fare with French influences. Diners can order a la carte from choices like foie gras sausage with pickled lobster mushrooms and housemade mozzarella or opt for a five- or seven -course tasting menu. Either way, save room for desserts like brown butter lemon pudding cake and malted milk chocolate ice cream, expertly crafted by co-owner and pastry chef Jessie Prawlucki. 

Fond just celebrated its anniversary last week, and as one diner recently gushed, “After seven years, I am always thrilled with the creativity of chef Styer.” OpenTable talked with Fond’s co-owner and head chef Lee Styer about working with friends, keeping the menu fresh, and why they love running a restaurant in Philadelphia.

Congratulations on your 7th anniversary! How has Fond developed such a passionate and devoted following in Philly?

I think we have gained a successful following by offering a high quality of food and service while still allowing our guests to remain comfortable. We want our guests to come in and eat good food in a relaxed environment. We treat our guests at Fond like we would treat guests in our own home. I think people have realized that they can come here and enjoy a great meal and feel welcome without a pretentious vibe.

How have you kept the menu fresh and exciting over the years?

Our menu is ever changing, but we do keep a few of the popular items on the menu for a longer period of time. We also always have different specials that we run from week to week. We try to keep our product and menu consistent while changing the ingredients and techniques over the seasons.

Fond was one of the pioneers of East Passyunk Avenue, which has been called one of the best foodie streets in America by Food & Wine. What was the neighborhood like when you opened your doors, and what has changed since then?

Over 20 restaurants and food service establishment have opened in the last seven years since we opened. It’s great to see new places come into the neighborhood and offer a different dining option. The neighborhood has grown tremendously with increased foot traffic and additional families moving to the area. Services like the valet parking enable the neighborhood to sustain its steady growth.

Fond in Philadelphia

What are the benefits and challenges of working with your spouse and friend?

When we opened seven years ago, Tory, Jessie, and I worked all day in a tiny restaurant space. Since then Jessie has moved into Belle Cakery and now is at home with our two small children, and Tory and I are now at a larger location at 1537 South 11th street. Working so closely with good friends has its ups and downs. Some of the positives are: all three partners are working for a specific goal, i.e. the success of Fond. Some of the challenges are that we may have different ways of reaching those goals. It had been a great opportunity to work with Tory and Jessie, but it has been also improved when each of us has had a little bit more room to expand our individual areas of focus.Continue Reading

Talking at the Pass: Chefs Charlie Palmer and Bryan Voltaggio

Our Talking at the Pass series, in which mentors and their successful disciples reunite to chat about their time together and what they learned from each other, continues.

This latest installment features chefs Charlie Palmer and Bryan Voltaggio. Palmer is a two-time James Beard Award winner, who helms New York City’s Aureole, Harvest Table in Napa Valley, and many more. His protégé-turned-powerhouse Voltaggio is a breakout star on Top Chef and chef of Frederick, Maryland’s VOLT, Range in Washington, D.C., and several other concepts.

Charlie Palmer and Bryan Voltaggio

Bryan, how did you begin working for Charlie?

Bryan Voltaggio: I began as an extern at Aureole in 1997 while I was attending the C.I.A. up in Hyde Park, New York. An instructor told me, “There’s one chef whose kitchen you need to be in – Charlie Palmer’s.” So I went down to New York City week after week. I would be in the corner of the kitchen next to the convection oven – next to where you would make your cappuccino, Charlie – cleaning chanterelles or whatever needed doing. After three weeks, Charlie came over and asked, “So, you want to work here?” I don’t know what came out of my mouth. I mumbled something. I was scared out of my mind. Upon my graduation in 1999, Charlie offered me a job there. That was the start of my career.

Charlie, what made Bryan stand out?

Charlie Palmer: I tell my sons this, “If you really want something – you gotta put yourself out there. You gotta show up. You gotta show people that this is really where you want to be.” If someone is persistent, really wants to work with us, wants to be on our team, show ups, and demonstrates that – that means a lot to me. We had a lot of young students who came down from the C.I.A. When we do a stage like that, it’s really more for them to see what they’re getting into. You’re not going to be able to tell much about them because they’re in the kitchen three nights a week just cleaning chanterelles or doing other menial work. What you can tell about them is whether they have a desire to be there and really be a great cook. How do they dress? Are their knives sharp? Do they have the right equipment with them?

How did your preconception of Charlie live up to the man who you went to work for?

BV: I was scared to go to New York City. I was 20-year-old farm boy from Frederick, Maryland. Before culinary school, I had been working at the kitchen of the local Holiday Inn. To then be in a kitchen like Aureole’s with a man like Charlie was overwhelming in some aspects. But I also knew when I walked in that this was the place I wanted to be and why I committed to culinary school. It is why I stopped pursuing a career making pretty good money at a rinky-dink hotel. I wanted to be better than that and be in the best places I could be. At Aureole, I felt I was surrounded by professionals who cared about their craft. Charlie was a part of service and in there every night. I remember thinking, “Wow. I read about this guy in Food Arts magazine. Now I’m seeing him actually cook.”

Do you remember the first dish Bryan put up that really impressed you?

CP: A lot of that happened when Bryan took over the kitchen at Charlie Palmer Steak in D.C. Once you’re in charge, you become accountable. There has to be a tremendous amount of passion. I can’t give chefs the menus and tell them what they’re going to cook. That doesn’t work for us. The thing is, Bryan wasn’t just driving that restaurant but what we were doing as a restaurant group as a whole. Some chefs are followers and some are leaders. Bryan was leading the charge.

What was the biggest lesson you learned from Charlie?

BV: I will never forget running across Park Avenue and dodging cabs because we were going to get an ingredient we didn’t have for a guest – no matter what. That’s hospitality. We always say “yes” to our guests.

Charlie, was it difficult for you when Bryan left to open VOLT in 2008?

CP: It was hard for me. It was like having a brother leave. Let me get one thing straight. Bryan says he worked for me. Bryan didn’t work for me; Bryan worked with me. There’s nothing that makes me more proud than Bryan going out and having success with his own business.Continue Reading