- Resy is launching a new dining program called Off Menu Week in six cities, according to a company release. For the program, restaurants selected by the reservation platform serve diners experimental, seasonal and off-menu dishes for one week in each city.
- Restaurants are free to offer the special menus to walk-in guests, as well, according to Bloomberg. CEO Ben Leventhal said in the release that the idea for the concept was inspired by consumer desire for connection with their favorite restaurants, and a move away from "the dated premise of Restaurant Week."
- The program kicks off in Los Angeles on Februrary 25 through March 3, followed by D.C. in April, San Francisco in June, New York City in September, Chicago in October and Austin in December. Reservations go live about one month in advance of each city’s start date, with Capital One (the program’s partner) credit cardholders gaining a few days’ advantage over the wider public.
Resy’s formidable client list definitely adds allure to its Off Menu Week promotion, as many clients already lean toward the trendy, destination-worthy side. “The one ‘criteria’ we have is that they're interested in being inventive and coming up with a unique experience for the guest,” Resy told Restaurant Dive in an email.
Partnering with Capital One carries advantages, too, especially with the company’s new Savor Rewards card, which rewards customers with 4% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases. On Wednesday the duo also announced Exclusive Tables, a six-month program during which cardholders can access reservations to hard-to-get tables in NYC, D.C. and Austin.
Since acquiring fellow disruptor Reserve late last year, expanding its reach to 4,000 restaurants in 160 cities worldwide, Resy shows no sign of slowing down its coup of the reservation sphere. The company prides itself on offering curated dining experiences at select restaurants, versus the more catch-all approach of OpenTable, the online reservation pioneer.
The concept of special menus that run for one week in select restaurants isn’t new, of course. Rather than run a nationwide promotion all at once, Resy opted for yearlong momentum “so diners have a chance to get to know and understand what [Off Menu Week] is all about, versus it being over in a blip,” Resy told Restaurant Dive. “We also wanted to let each city have its ‘moment’ since they're all so unique and different.”
Dozens of cities across the country now offer Restaurant Weeks, during which diners can make reservations (or walk-in, but many restaurants tend to fill up during peak times) at hotspots and stalwarts alike to try a prix fixe menu at a discounted price. The program helps restaurants gain business for lunch and dinner — otherwise sluggish times compared to the hectic holidays and subsequent drag of the new year.
In most cities, participating businesses must pay a fee or become a member of the local tourism board to be listed on the official website. And diners tend to be “amateur foodies” unlikely to become regular customers, as CityLab learned from some restaurant owners in 2012, leaving them and their staff unenthused for the week (or in some cases weeks) ahead. Restaurants have also reported taking losses because of the discounts, Time reported in 2013, and chefs lament the reality of serving “special” meals that often cut corners to tamp down costs.
Off Menu Week and Exclusive Tables complement previous special Resy events, including its Women of Food series with famed pastry chef Dominique Crenn and Franks’ Backyard BBQ parties. “Both will return in 2019, and there are additional not-yet-announced events and experiences in the works, but we are excited to be kicking off the year with the announcement of Off Menu Week,” Resy added in its email to Restaurant Dive, noting that it will become a “marquee Resy program year over year.”