A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I went out for our anniversary dinner.
I’d made reservations for two with OpenTable at a nice little steak place and mentioned it was our anniversary in the ‘special occasion’ field. When we arrived, the staff was friendly and gave us special treatment.
Overall it was a great experience, except for one little thing: the table. We’d have preferred a window seat, not one in the middle of the room near the entrance. Nitpicky, I know, and something the staff had no idea about since I didn’t tell them and I wasn’t able to pick a specific table when I made reservations
But what if I could have? What if I could have picked my table location like I would when buying a ticket on an airplane or for a concert? Better yet, what if I could have walked around a virtual version of the restaurant and seen the table and the view before making the reservation?
That’s the future a startup called Tablz is hoping to make possible. The San Francisco-based company has created a table reservation platform that allows prospective diners to virtually tour a restaurant and pick their table. As you can see in the video below, the experience is not unlike moving through a video game like The Sims or touring a home with a 3D walkthrough on Zillow.
In other words, the company has shown us what the restaurant reservation experience will look like in the metaverse, and I am here for it. The first description I heard of Tablz was that it allows you to pick a seat like you would on an airplane. That’s accurate, but it doesn’t really do it justice. By being able to walk around the restaurant and pick a table, see where it is on a 3D floorplan or dollhouse view, and look around from your prospective seat with a 360-degree view is a game-changer when it comes to making a reservation.
Tablz’s technology can be plugged into existing reservation sites like OpenTable and Rezy, which makes it a lot more appealing to prospective restaurant owners who have spent years building followings on those platforms. It also makes it more likely that the entrenched platforms themselves will embrace the technology rather than see it as a competitor. I also wouldn’t rule out the incumbents either creating similar technology or acquiring a company like Tablz as restaurant reservations evolve and move into the metaverse.
Tablz was initially incubated as the first product from a company called Transparent Kitchen. The Transparent Kitchen’s founders saw enough potential with the product to sunset the original company and focus full-time on Tablz. The company has raised a small seed round of funding from Branded Hospitality Ventures and a private investor group, including restaurant advisor Steven Kamali and Bbot founder Steve Simoni.
Tablz technology is being used at a handful of restaurants today like Roka in San Francisco and Dog & Tiger Public House in Toronto, but I expect we’ll see more soon as restaurants look for ways to stand out from the crowd as we come out of the pandemic.
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