“Tables reserved at peak, or otherwise sold-out, times are offered for a small reservation fee” – See the Restaurants currently Signed Up


From a press release:

“In Washington, D.C., a restaurant is a place to entertain and impress business clients, negotiate political compromises, or enjoy a leisurely meal. However, dining at one of DC’s hottest restaurants requires planning weeks, or even months in advance, or knowing someone on the inside who can wrangle a coveted last-minute reservation. With today’s launch of restaurant reservation service Table8, available via iPhone and Android apps and through Table8.com, guests now have the opportunity to book that important dinner at a moment’s notice. “DC is famous for high-powered business dinners, and Table8 is the 21st century version of the maître d’,” says Table8 co-founder Santosh Jayaram. Users simply sign up for a free membership and select a guaranteed table from a highly curated list that serves as a guide to DC’s best restaurants. Tables reserved at peak, or otherwise sold-out, times are offered for a small reservation fee, which is shared with the restaurant; all other times, the reservations are on the house.

After a successful San Francisco launch in March 2014, and Los Angeles in September 2014, Table8 debuts today in DC with 17 prestigious restaurant partners, including:

• Chef José Andrés’ Think Food Group (Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel)

• Chef Mike Isabella’s Mike Isabella Concepts (Graffiato, Kapnos)

• Chef Michael Babin’s Neighborhood Restaurant Group (Birch & Barley, The Partisan, Iron Gate)

• Fabio and Maria Trabocchi (Fiola, Casa Luca, Fiola Mare)

• The Kuller Restaurants (Estadio, Doi Moi, Proof)

• AltaMareaGroup (Osteria Morini DC)

• Founding Farmer Restaurant Group (Farmers Fishers Bakers)

• Del Campo

“Providing great service to our guests is always a top priority, and access to reservations is part of the overall service and experience,” says Chef/Owner Mike Isabella. “We understand that not every guest can book a reservation weeks out, and are excited to bring expanded access to reservations through our partnership with Table8.”

Table8 is the brainchild of Santosh Jayaram, the first business executive at Twitter, and Pete Goettner, a venture capitalist and CEO of DigitalThink. Frustrated with their restaurant routines, and the lack of availability at both new and classic destinations, Jayaram and Goettner built Table8 to open last-minute reservation access, and create a new revenue stream for restaurants. Table8 works one-on-one with each restaurant to select the number of tables they would like to hold as well as the price of the seats, and then splits the proceeds. “These are the ‘managers tables’ once set aside only for last-minute VIP diners that are now being made available to everyone,” says Goettner.”

58 Comment

  • Ugh! I hate this. It’s almost as bad as the app that tried to auction public parking in San Francisco. I hope it doesn’t work out, and I’d suggest people refrain from eating at these restaurants.

    • There is a big difference with this app: the restaurants are in on it and take a cut of the fees. But at least instead of some anonymous scalper out there there is a defined outlet for people to voice their concerns. If enough people hate this and restaurants start losing business because of it I’m sure they will change their tune ($10-20 per res kicking back to the establishment isn’t really all that much in the grand scheme of things). This is also no different than what fancy hotel concierges do on a daily basis for, oh, the past century or so. It’s just shedding light on what that privilege buys you.

  • Great idea. I’m going to download it now….but probably won’t use it until it truly gives me access to places I can’t get into on a regular basis. I’ve been to all those listed, pretty much. I’d pay more for exclusive access to Komi, Minibar, Rose’s Luxury, Little Serow, etc.

    • justinbc

      I think the difference is that at most of those places if you show up at 7 or 8PM that night there either won’t be availability or there will be with a 2 hour or so wait. Sure, you can easily book OpenTable reservations for any / most of them well in advance, but this app is targeting people who don’t plan that well or can’t due to short notice or whatever reason.

  • Is this a sponsored post?

  • Ugh. Stubhub for restaurants?

  • None of these restaurants strike me as particularly different to get into. Maybe Fiola Mare if you don’t plan in advance. If they offered a service to get you in to Rose’s Luxury and Little Serow, that might actually be worth it.

  • so it’s like Beelinenow?

    • It appears to be like Uber but for restaurants. Get a reservation for where you want to go, pay more during “surge” hours.

    • No. It’s like flying on an airline now.

      • This. Although the big difference being there are a lot of decent restaurants you can go to where you don’t have laughable waits. Any restaurant that requires a paid premium to actually get a reservation just isn’t worth it (at least to me). But, hey, people will find this service useful, and if the founders of the company can make money off it, then why not.

  • I don’t consider most of these restaurants particularly difficult to get into. I’ve gotten walk-in seating at most of them, and it’s very easy to get a reservation at Kapnos and Graffiato with a1-3 days advance planning.

    The value seems…questionable…unless the point is to show off that you can get a table whenever to people who don’t know any better?

  • Very TicketMaster-y. (nods head)

  • Add me to the list who would love to use this app to get into Rose’s Luxury or Little Serow. The current partners offer some nice meals but aren’t particularly hard to get a reservation.

    Hopefully it works out and they expand their offering.

  • A list of restaurants to avoid. This is good to know…

  • Whatever. This list is hardly representative of the toughest places in town to get reservations and I wouldn’t ‘buy’ at table at any of them.

    • agreed, but the rise of these types of services should be worrisome

    • For what its worth, I wanted to compare this to Open Table – the first restaurant I looked for (Jaleo) had plenty of availability on Saturday night at 7PM. I’d post a screenshot of the result, if I knew how. Not an exhaustive nor definitive comparison, but good enough for me.

  • DC is a place where pseudo-sophistication sells and this cashes in on it.

  • Mike Isabella’s App for this service only works on Boost Mobile or Cricket Phones. Too soon?!

  • So let me get this straight…
    I call a restaurant and ask for a reservation, they inform me that there aren’t any tables available for the day and time that I’m requesting. I then go to this app and magically by paying a fee, a table magically materializes where on didn’t exist before?
    What is this invention? Oh, plain greed. So the restaurants will just hold back a few tables for this. I call BS.

    • Ridiculous. So you can pay more and get an express lane, which I assume was built with taxpayer dollars. You can pay more and get a table at a place that doesn’t have any available. You can pay more to go through security at the airport faster. Can I pay more and have my food expedited to the front of the line?

    • No, you are just paying for the access that was once reserved for close friends, family, people more important than yourself….

      “These are the ‘managers tables’ once set aside only for last-minute VIP diners that are now being made available to everyone,” says Goettner.”

    • justinbc

      Most of these restaurants already had open tables even when they told you there weren’t any. Most of them hold them for special regular guests, not for the random person who calls last minute. If anything this app is providing you more access that the plebes wouldn’t have had otherwise (and yes, of course there’s a fee for that access).

      • I agree with all of this. But, I wonder why the restaurant would agree to let the table go for an extra couple of bucks. Unless the fee is far more than I’m anticipating, it’s hard to see what the motivation is. That said, I will certainly download it.

        • justinbc

          Having seen what Uber surge pricing is like I’m guessing it’s a good bit. I’m also guessing that as the restaurant industry in DC continues to boom, the “VIP guests” are spreading their wealth across a wider base, and therefore some of these tables really are sitting empty throughout the night.

  • I would hate this app more if it really was taking away any seats I wanted to jump on by planning ahead of time to those with more money and less foresight; however, it states that the tables being released are ones that were already being held by management as VIP tables when chefs / managers have guests in, and would not normally be available to the public. Not sure of ow true that is though.

  • Smilla

    This is how I would use Table8:

    1) Call Restaurant A for a reservation and find out the place is booked.
    2) Check Table8 and find a table at Restaurant A that is available for a fee.
    3) Don’t make a reservation at Restaurant A; use OpenTable to get a free reservation at another restaurant.

  • “After a successful San Francisco launch in March 2014, and Los Angeles in September 2014, Table8 debuts today in DC…”

    Really? My recollection of that *successful* San Francisco Launch was a boycott of the restaurants that participated and a level of vitriol on social media that is usually reserved for Nazis and pedophiles.

    • justinbc

      That’s hilarious. So the people who wouldn’t have gotten those tables anyway were now suddenly pissed that they could pay to actually have access to them? This generation…

      • west_egg

        “wouldn’t have gotten those tables anyway”
        How do you know? Maybe if the company wasn’t squatting on reservations, there would be more available to “regular” customers.

        • justinbc

          How do I know? Because I read the press release where it’s clearly stated.

        • Yes — I read this the same way as Justin. The restaurants always set aside some tables for VIPs and friends, but there aren’t always VIPs and friends to fill those tables at that last moment. These aren’t “squatted” seats, as far as I can tell, but seats the restaurant can only make available right before the time of the service.

        • I’m with Justin and Shawess. Plus, looking at the app, on hot nights (this coming Saturday, for example), often there are only two-tops available. It doesn’t appear that restaurants are setting aside multiple six-tops for the highest bidder.

  • justinbc

    I would say I’m surprised by the amount of people who clearly don’t understand the concept of this app, but I’m guessing that the userbase / clientele for this app is a rather limited one and not exactly a cross-section of the average blog reader here. I personally don’t have much use for it, but I can definitely see the appeal and validity of it for those who have the demands it’s catering to.

  • nightborn

    I would/will totally do this. I don’t eat out very often so when I do, I generally have a very specific idea about where I want to go and I see nothing wrong with paying a little bit to get a table right then and there.

    • I’m with you on this one. I don’t expect to use this often, if ever, but it could come in handy. There have been times that, say, a friend makes a last-minute visit to town and I want to take them to the Iron Gate that night. If the fees are reasonable enough, I’d probably pay them in rare cases like this.

      • justinbc

        When I used to live in Logan Circle I would have friends come to visit over a weekend who had heard about Birch & Barley through various publications and insist on going. Even with my relationships with those people there it still would have helped immensely to just pay right away and walk in, rather than having to “friend guilt” my way into a table.

  • What a joke. Suckers will pay.

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