Have you ever tried to make a spontaneous visit to your favourite restaurant, only to find out it’s been fully booked days or even weeks in advance? Well, guess what – there’s an app for that! This week saw the Ottawa launch of an innovative solution called DINR. It’s a free mobile reservation service that matches last-minute diners with same-day availabilities for tables at some of the city’s most popular restaurants.
“DINR solves problems for both diners looking for reservations as well as restaurants looking to fill seats that are empty because of cancellations and no shows,” explains Kyle Nares, co-founder, DINR and also a successful Montreal restaurateur (he co-owns Garde Manger and Le Bremner in Montreal). “I like to describe it as a virtual waiting list.”
DINR launched in Montreal in late 2014 and in Toronto earlier this year; Kyle says the app has already been downloaded (from the iOS App Store, Google Play for Android or online at GetDINR.com) more than 30,000 times and has seated over 14,000 same-day diners. Partner restaurants currently on board in the nation’s capital include Beckta Dining & Wine Bar, MÄ“Na, Supply and Demand, North & Navy, SOIF Bar à Vin de Veronique Rivest, Fauna and Bar Laurel. Kyle expects more to follow soon, though he cautions it’s not about the volume of restaurants; it’s more about finding chef-driven, high-demand, top-quality restaurant partners who also understand the importance of updating the system as their availability inventory changes throughout the day.
The app is easy to navigate – search the curated list for current availabilities at nearby restaurants for that day and you can make a reservation in just four taps. If a restaurant has no availabilities, select ‘Notify Me’ and DINR will send a notification the minute a table opens up. Reservations are free but require a credit card to secure the seats. Diners who fail to show up are subject to a $30.00 no-show charge. The app sends a notification 90 minutes before your reservation time and there is no penalty to cancel up to an hour before your time slot.
Jennifer Wall, co-owner of Supply and Demand, says that their restaurant was delighted to be invited to participate in DINR Ottawa. “We are very old school and chose not to have an online reservation system because we like the personal interaction with our customers. But having met Kyle and his partners at Le Bremner, we knew if anyone could build a system that works, it’s them,” she says. “A few weeks ago we had 19 no shows or last minute cancellations on a weekend night and we immediately thought of all the people we had said no to earlier in the week who wanted a reservation that night. It’s bad for our image and our bottom line if we end up with empty tables; DINR means that if we do end up having tables, they can easily be booked. We encourage people to give the app a try so it will gain some traction in Ottawa.”