Free Wi-Fi isn’t the only way restaurants are capturing a workforce that isn’t tethered to desks. A rising freelance and tech economy has opened up new marketing and revenue opportunities for places with empty tables during the day. Check out how eateries are leveraging technology and partnerships by turning their unused seats into office and meeting facilities.
Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen and Bar, L’ Apicio and Public in New York City have partnered with a co-working startup called Spacious. Members who pay $95 per month get access to participating restaurants’ open seats, where they can plug in, hold a meeting with clients or collaborate with fellow co-workers. The one thing they can't do: Eat. Spacious provides its own free Wi-Fi, coffee and water to members. Restaurants, some of which are closed to the public during the hours they court members, benefit through sharing profits with the startup and exposing the premises to potentially new customers. DBGB has already seen a sales bump, because members return with friends at night. "It’s a really great way to expose our space to people that are our clientele, but that hadn’t necessarily seen us," DGBG Manager Mike Favazzo told Bedford + Bowery.
Though Starbucks has always sought to attract professionals and freelancers, the brand recently launched an Outlook add-in that easily allows users to schedule meetings at specific Starbucks locations. They can also send electronic gift cards through the email and calendar service. A tagline for the feature reads “Make Starbucks your new meeting room.”
OpenTable is piloting a feature where guests can select non-standard seating options such as communal tables, bars, patios and high-tops. This helps busy restaurants hook diners up with a table. "The new feature allowed us to open up additional inventory, seat more guests and deliver a better experience to diners," Terry McNeese, general manager at de Quay in Chicago, said in a news release. However, this new option can also give roaming professionals a chance to secure a workspace of their choosing at non-peak hours. The OpenTable blog nods at the future potential of this tool: “Finally, this feature is a first step to help restaurants better merchandise their unique dining experiences. Today that means attracting diners that specifically want to book the bar, but tomorrow, it could mean supporting outdoor dining experiences, special rooms, and other seats that can sometimes be hard to fill with guests.”