When I traveled to San Francisco in July, I made online reservations at several restaurants using www.opentable.com. It was easy to use -- you can make reservations any time of the day, no waiting until the hostess gets in or leaving a voice mail and waiting for them to call you back to confirm. Plus, OpenTable members can earn Dining Rewards Points for online reservation they make and honor. Points are redeemable for OpenTable Dining Cheques which can be used at any OpenTable restaurant.
When I got back, I thought I'd check it out for use at home. There were only a couple of restaurants listed. Bummer. But in the months since then, an increasing number of Birmingham-area restaurants have signed on to the service. There are now about a dozen, with recently added ones including Cafe Dupont, Jackson's Bar and Bistro, Ocean, and La Dolce Vita.
Although OpenTable has been around since 1999, it really seems to be catching on. The service began in gourmet-conscious San Francisco, with a rapid migration to New York City. It offers free, online reservations for diners as well as guest and table management systems for restaurants and celebrated its 50 millionth reservation last month. The OpenTable network includes 8,000 restaurants around the world, which have replaced their pen-and-paper reservation books with the OpenTable computerized reservation system.