When Restaurants Google You, Is It Creepy – or Cool?

Here’s something you may or may not know: Many of the best restaurants in the world research their guests online prior to a shift, with a view to learning something that will help them give those diners truly personalized, exceptional hospitality.

We were curious how people might feel about that, so we decided to ask U.S. OpenTable members, “When restaurants Google you, is it creepy or cool?” More than 6,000 chimed in with their responses, which led to the following interesting findings:

“Creepy” trumps “cool”

While many people aren’t bothered by the notion of being Googled by restaurant staff, the number of people who consider it “creepy or intrusive” outweighs the number of people who think it’s a good thing.


Many of the 5 percent who answered “other” seemed baffled by the notion. “Not sure about that. What will they really get?” wondered one respondent. “Too much of a ‘Big Brother’ feeling,” commented another. “These must be expensive restaurants!” reasoned a third.

Diners in some cities are more creeped out than others

When we looked at the data by metro area, we saw a fair amount of variation. The most relaxed about this practice were our diners in Dallas, which was, in fact, the only city where those who think it’s a good thing (34 percent) outweighed those who consider it creepy (23 percent).

Meanwhile, respondents from cities farther north (think Boston, Chicago, and Minneapolis) were a lot more suspicious of being researched by a restaurant at which they were about to dine.Continue Reading

Dining Out on Valentine’s Day Is Twice as Nice in 2010, Survey Says

Dining-out-on-Valentines-Day-2010OpenTable diners are enjoying twice as many dining options for Valentine’s Day this year, thanks to February 14 falling on a Sunday. According to a recent online survey of nearly 1,000 diners, just as many people are choosing to eat out on Saturday, February 13, in honor of Valentine’s Day as are dining out on the actual holiday. This doubles your odds of dining out at the restaurant of your choice. And, if you factor in Friday night or doing brunch on Sunday at a hotspot…well, you can do math!

In terms of who’s dining with whom, the survey revealed that more than 63% of respondents will be dining out with a partner during this romantic weekend. In good news for foodies who aren’t picking up the tab, 85% expect to spend at least as much as they did in 2009. Multi-course menus, here we come!

We also learned that while Paris may be the city of lights and love, 33% of Valentine’s diners are seeking out Italian cuisine most of all this year — though French cuisine is a close second at 29%.

The factors that contributed to a really romantic dining experience included a private table (28%), exceptional service (16%), and a beautiful view (13%). Most respondents didn’t care about candlelight (5%) or soft music (2%), calling into question two longtime courtship clichés.

Do any of these statistics shock or surprise you? Let us know here or over on Facebook.

And, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter to win one of five Valentine’s Day limo giveaways.

Dining Out on New Year’s: Saving the Best Meal for the Last Day of the Decade

New Year 2010What are you doing on New Year’s Eve? If you’re an OpenTable user, you’re probably dining out. According to a recent survey, more than 60% of respondents are dining out on the last day of the decade. The most popular reservation times are between 7PM and 9PM (so book your tables today!), and the most popular dishes celebrants will dine on are steak and lobster (proving that surf and turf never really gets old). Most people are spending as much or more than they did last year, and, as the economy slowly bounces back, an impressive 11% of survey takers indicated they were going to spend more than $150 per person on their last meal of the decade.

If you’re looking to make December 31, 2009, a night to really remember, consider one of these 10 spectacular New Year’s Eve celebrations around the nation.

1. Charlie Trotter’s: Guests at Chef Trotter’s legendary Lincoln Park restaurant will start their evening with a Champagne and canapé reception. A luxurious multi-course tasting menu featuring the finest ingredients will be followed by a midnight toast. At $350 per person, this is a must for Chicago’s foodies.

2. Sixteen: Sixteen restaurant at Chicago’s Trump International Hotel & Tower will feature a “Fire and Ice” themed evening for $310. Guests will be greeted by cylindrical fire centerpieces and hostesses decked out in red designer dresses. An extravagant eight-course tasting menu prepared by Chef Frank Brunacci with wine pairings is bested only by the prime view of the midnight fireworks off of Chicago’s Navy Pier.

3. The Bazaar by José Andrés: Trip the light fantastic and ring in the New Year, Beverly Hills-style, with friends for a decadent night of revelry at America’s best restaurant — and stay the night. For just $689 per couple, you’ll get dinner for two at the Bazaar by José Andrés, tickets for two to the SLS New Year’s Eve Gala, and room accommodations at a special New Year’s Eve rate.

4. Carbon Beach Club at the Malibu Beach Inn: Nothing beats dining on the beach under the stars, and that is exactly what you can do at the Carbon Beach Club. Treat yourself to a six-course prix-fixe menu including a complimentary glass of Champagne and party favors as you greet the new year to the sounds of the California surf for just $175 per person.

5. Aureole: Everything old is new again at Manhattan’s Aureole, Charlie Palmer’s relocated and renovated restaurant. For $500 per person, diners will feast on a five-course chef tasting menu with wine pairings, DJ entertainment, and a Champagne toast, just steps from Times Square.

6. Two Times Square: If you want an unforgettable evening, Two Times Square in New York City is the place to spend it. Guests can relish an open bar, a five-course meal with wine pairings, music, and more – not to mention the very best view of the ball dropping in Times Square, all for just $2,500 per person.

7. Meritage at the Claremont: The new Meritage at the Claremont in Berkeley is celebrating its first New Year’s in grand culinary style! Executive Chef Josh Thomsen has prepared a special five-course dinner, accompanied by live music and including a Champagne toast, party favors and parking. This all-inclusive evening is $390 per couple.

8. MICHAEL MINA: Located on San Francisco’s storied Union Square in the Westin St. Francis Hotel, Michael Mina’s signature restaurant is serving a magnificent five-course tasting menu and wine pairing for $350 per person. Celebrants will enjoy live jazz and dancing later in the evening.

9. Michel Richard Citronelle: Georgetown gastronomes need look no further than their own backyard for fine dining on New Year’s Eve. Michel Richard is presenting a gourmand six-course meal and wine pairing. Beginning with hors d’oeuvres in the lounge, the evening winds down with a vintage Champagne toast at midnight. Noisemakers, hats and dancing round out the festivities, which cost $450 per person. Dressing up is a must.

10. Plume at the Jefferson Hotel: Party like a President at Plume at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington, D.C. Located in a Beaux Arts jewel of a hotel that is inspired by Monticello, Plume is serving a six-course tasting menu created by Damon Gordon. You’ll also enjoy musical entertainment, party favors, and a Champagne toast for $225 per person.

If none of these are right for (or near) you, check out OpenTable’s New Year’s Eve Celebrations Around the World page to find a restaurant at which to ring in 2010.