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Incanto complains about OpenTable [moved from San Francisco board]


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Incanto complains about OpenTable [moved from San Francisco board]

johnq | Oct 18, 2010 10:37 PM

In today's Chronicle (at least in the Chronicle food blog on the web; I have no idea when or if it will appear in the print version): "Is OpenTable worth it?", by Chris Cosentino and Mark Pastore of Incanto:

They don't think so, at least from the perspective of restaurants, for two reasons: (1) OpenTable charges restaurants an amount that approximately equals the restaurant's profit margin for the average meal, thereby wiping out the profit, and (2) OpenTable has taken control of the customer relationship away from the restaurants.

I wasn't previously aware of the OpenTable business model, and found that interesting, but the rest of the lengthy article rubbed me the wrong way. OpenTable is by no means perfect, but it's made life much easier for anyone interested in trying a variety of restaurants.

Their reasons for disliking OpenTable make little or no sense to me. I suspect a hidden agenda here: restaurants don't like competition. That's understandable, since businesses never like competition. OpenTable facilitates competition among restaurants by presenting numerous options to the customer. That's good for customers, but not so good for individual restaurants, since it makes it much easier for customers to try new places.

The article implied that customers should avoid OpenTable because OpenTable is somehow taking advantage of hard-working restaurateurs. That strikes me as self-serving and wrong, but I'm curious what other people think about it.

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