Open Table’s leading competitor extends its US presence to Denver and the Rocky Mountains, its fourth US market.
Timothy Ryan, CEO of global online reservation leader EVEVE, announced today that three of Denver’s top independent restaurants, have switched their live reservations supplier to EVEVE. “We are very honored and excited to be able to establish our presence in Denver and Colorado by announcing our partnership with three amazing restaurants,” said Ryan. “Denver is one of the most diverse and progressive restaurant cities in America and we are thrilled about the potential to work with restaurants in the city, and throughout the State of Colorado and the Mountain West in the weeks and months ahead,” said Ryan. “We’re very grateful that Charcoal Restaurant, Old Major and Sushi Den are making us feel at home in Denver.”
Charcoal Restaurant, one of Denver’s most critically acclaimed, showcases contemporary European cuisine, and manages thousands of online diners each month. Sushi Den is widely considered Denver’s finest Japanese restaurant and tables are a much prized commodity. Old Major, the elevated farmhouse kitchen concept from Executive Chef Justin Brunson is amongst the hottest tables in town, with one of the highest ratios of online reservations to seats in Colorado. These three are joined by The Curtis Club and Cedar Creek, which have also recently switched to EVEVE within the past couple of weeks. All told, EVEVE now expects to manage around 7,000 online diners per month in Colorado.
EVEVE announced its expansion into Denver, building on its presence in 26 other states and two provinces in Canada, after surpassing expectations in its initial U.S. test market of the Twin Cities Minnesota (2012), and later in Houston (2013) and Seattle (2014). With more than three million diners seated per annum, Eveve is the number two supplier by booking volume in the USA and has emerged as OpenTable’s principal American competitor.
Like the Twin Cities, Houston and Seattle, Coloradan restaurateurs were faced with one expensive monopoly supplier. Now Eveve brings some much needed competition to the field, which is good news for prices, and for restaurateurs. EVEVE chose Minneapolis-St. Paul as its first target market in 2011, and the company now manages the online reservations for nine of the Twin Cities’ 10 busiest independent restaurants, and over 50% of all online diner reservations in the state. In Houston, EVEVE serves five of the top 10 most booked independent restaurants, as well as acclaimed fine dining establishments, such as Oxheart and Barley Swine (in Austin). Seattle became EVEVE’s third market in November 2014, and 15 restaurants now utilize the company’s product across the greater metropolitan area. Ryan adds, “There is no reason why the success in our initial three major markets can’t be repeated in Denver, given that it resembles the Twin Cities and Seattle online reservation markets in important ways.”
The benefits for the Denver restaurant community are tangible. “In Minneapolis, Seattle and Houston, Eveve has proven it can provide an industry-standard reservation system and comparable online reservations volumes, as the previous supplier [OpenTable], at a cost which is typically 70-90% less”. The introduction of a viable competitor into a formerly monopoly market will typically have a meaningful impact on prices, but the scale of the savings in this case are particularly unusual.
“The recurring themes we keep hearing from Denver’s restaurant owners include the feeling of being trapped in OpenTable’s system — its pricing structure is complicated and too expensive to sustain — but restaurant owners have lacked a viable alternative,” said Ryan. “Restauranteurs are weary of seeing their monthly OpenTable bills vary greatly from month to month,” said Ryan. “There are no surprises to Eveve’s monthly bills and that has become a critical advantage for us.”
“OpenTable has had value, but it’s gone from being a simple tool that restaurants used to increase their relationships with their diners, to being a destination in and of itself” notes Ryan. Charcoal Restaurant’s owner, Gary Sumihiro adds “Charcoal Restaurant has reached a stage where it wants to control its own reservations and branding rather than through a third party”. Ryan notes “Restaurants give OpenTable their brands and have to pay for this ‘privilege’. In a logical world, OpenTable should have actually been paying these restaurants to have access to their brands.”
The restaurant business is a tough one, and if restaurants can shave thousands (or in many cases tens of thousands) of dollars per year from their bottom line, it is a welcome saving. Ryan concludes “There are a handful of restaurants in Minneapolis which actually saved as much on OpenTable fees, as the owners paid themselves the previous year”.
Might this be the beginning of an exodus in Colorado’s restaurant marketplace? “The minute these leading restaurants switched, we have been deluged with inquiries,” said Ryan. “Margins are shrinking; people have told us they’ve been looking for a solid alternative for a long time.”
Timothy Ryan, CEO
Benjamin Brecht, Sales Executive
Denice Dampier, Sales Executive