OpenTable rival? Groupon opens Reserve restaurant booking program

A Groupon sign outside the company’s headquarters in Chicago,
(Tim Boyle / Bloomberg)

Groupon Inc. has OpenTable Inc. in its cross hairs, launching a similar restaurant-booking service to complement its daily deal offerings.

The new Groupon Reserve program is already live in 10 cities, including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington. By the end of the year, Chicago-based Groupon expects to expand the set-up to the rest of the country and abroad.

At the moment, Groupon Reserve only allows users to put their names down for discounted meals.

The program, which uses table-finding technology from, gives patrons a bargain on their bill without requiring them to print out vouchers or pay for their food in advance.


Groupon bought in September for an undisclosed price.

The Reserve offering already extends to more than 600 restaurants in the starter cities, including Gordon Ramsay at the London, Chaya Brasserie and R23 in Los Angeles.

“As Groupon has evolved, we’ve seen growing demand from our customers for upscale offers and exclusive experiences,” Chief Executive Eric Lefkofsky said in a statement.

Eventually, Groupon also plans to apply Reserve to bookings in the beauty, travel and entertainment industry. Users would be able to score discounts with reservations at spas, salons and hotels.


Lefkofsky said he envisions the program as a way for businesses to draw foot traffic during slow periods by using flexible pricing.

“Whether it’s because of a slow night or a last minute no-show, even the best restaurants have empty tables,” he said. “Reserve provides these businesses with a yield-management solution to bring customers through their doors at the times they need them the most.”

Lefkofsky replaced his predecessor and Groupon founder Andrew Mason in February, when Mason was fired following the stock’s downward spiral.

Mason has said that he will release an album of music next month. Groupon stock, meanwhile, has recovered since Mason’s departure, rising 88.7% in recent months.

During midday trading Monday, the stock was up 14 cents, or 1.6%, to $8.69 a share.


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