How Park Row restaurant in London is stepping into the future with OpenTable

From Experiences to Reviews, find out how OpenTable helps boost demand for this newly themed restaurant in the local community.

 

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Type of restaurant:
Restaurant Group

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Locations:
London, UK

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Year founded:
2021

Iconic Batman movies and comics have thrown up their fair share of extravagant plotlines over the years. So it’s perhaps fitting that Park Row, an elegant DC-themed restaurant in London’s Soho neighbourhood, opened its doors to the public in the midst of a global pandemic.

It’s far from your typical restaurant opening, and Director of Communications Stuart Singer and his team must have felt like they were in their very own DC Comics story arc, battling the restrictions placed on restaurants while allaying diner concerns over eating out during Covid.

Like any Batman story, however, the hero always prevails in the end. And it’s no different for Park Row, which has generated plenty of buzz with both DC Comics fans and regular restaurant-goers looking for a unique dining experience.

A new partnership with OpenTable has led to an increase in bookings as well as high review scores. It’s fair to say, then, that the future is looking bright for Park Row. We recently caught up with Stuart to see what life is like at the restaurant and the role OpenTable plays in helping boost demand.

Not just any themed restaurant

Stuart oversees all communications at Park Row, including the implementation of tech, day-to-day marketing, social, PR and the operational side of the business. Essentially, he’s responsible for getting the restaurant to “fire on all cylinders”, as he puts it.

Within that is the guest journey and all the different offerings, including ensuring that guests understand the concept of the restaurant. This is vital for Stuart, who says, “We’re an elevated themed dining concept, and it’s about educating them, but not in an oppressive way.”

Essentially, Park Row is DC themed with a heavy influence on all things Batman. Yet, you can still enjoy a meal here without having any prior knowledge of the DC heroes and villains. Stuart is keen to note this, saying, “If you don’t like Batman, then you come into a lovely restaurant serving great food and drink. We’ve got some excellent operators here coming from all the best restaurant and bar backgrounds.

“But if you do like Batman, then there is an entire universe with all sorts of Easter eggs to discover.” There’s no cosplay at Park Row, though – you won’t see waiters dressed up as The Riddler or Harley Quinn. Instead, you get a fine dining experience that just so happens to be set in the refined world of Gotham city.

Striking the right chord with OpenTable

As with any restaurant, it’s all about filling tables. After using a different restaurant reservation system, Park Row signed up with OpenTable, and Stuart cites reach as the primary driver for the switch.

“OpenTable offers great search validity and exposure to a large audience thanks to its longevity in hospitality and the work it does. It hosts some of the biggest restaurants and has a proven track record – if it’s working for those restaurants, then that kind of speaks for itself.”

Park Row’s location, combined with its visibility on OpenTable, is also beneficial. Acknowledging that they work in tandem, Stuart says, “If you’re a tourist, that means you can type in Soho or Piccadilly, and we show up in the search results on OpenTable. Or if you’re looking for high end or fine dining, we’ll also be there.”

Reviews are another factor in Park Row’s decision to move to OpenTable. Stuart notes that previous options didn’t have an actual user-review setting, which meant all the great compliments diners were leaving weren’t visible to the public. Stuart says, “We’re fortunate to have some of the best feedback on OpenTable, and we will show up in the review section, too.”

Familiarity and the importance of customer service

Another benefit Stuart has found on OpenTable is the team members’ familiarity when using it. Many of the staff at Park Row have come from different hospitality jobs where OpenTable was the primary reservations system. There was no need to train people on how to use it, as the majority of them were already familiar with the system.

“It has improved our team’s confidence in managing services”, says Stuart. “Many of them had used it before, and familiarity breeds success.”

On top of that, Stuart is impressed by the customer support services. “OpenTable has done everything it can to ensure its listening to its customers. You can pick up the phone at any time and speak to a human.”

“I highlighted an improvement that could potentially be made, and right away it was noted down and relayed to the product team. It’s really refreshing to see customers listened to and to feel valued.”

Crafting an experience and securing bookings

Features are an important aspect of using OpenTable for Park Row, and Experiences is ideal for a concept restaurant like Park Row. “ We can promote our unique experiences, such as Gotham City Sundays, and use the boost feature to put some promotion behind it.

“We can also take advantage of the Experiences function for pre-ticket selling on ticketed events instead of advertising with other event-booking only platforms. It allows us to utilise the pre-ticketing function and take that revenue before we open and create a guest list. We can also monitor all our numbers and assign those tickets to an existing table plan.”

Digging deeper into the data

One area where Stuart feels he and his team could derive more from OpenTable comes from the data available. He notes that “we don’t pore over the data available to us because, as operators, we are particularly busy at this time of year. When we have some downtime, hopefully during the quieter months, we can really look deeper into the numbers, and OpenTable allows us to do that.”

Even though Park Row hasn’t spent a significant amount of time poring through the data, there are areas where Stuart has seen direct improvements since joining OpenTable. He noticed an uptick in covers after the restaurant was featured in OpenTable marketing communications, saying, “we saw an increase in bookings of between 20 and 23 percent.”

Working together for a better future

The future looks bright for Park Row, which plans on using OpenTable in 2022 for a ticketed restaurant, the Monarch Theatre, which only serves 20 seats and offers an intimate dining experience.

Stuart says, “using OpenTable for the Monarch will give us that exposure and make lives easier for the team.”

Park Row offers a unique experience, but it could be the first of many. “We hope to open more sites one day, and we have a fantastic relationship with Warner Bros, who we licence the DC brand from. There are many exciting brands under their umbrella that we can explore.”

In the short term, however, Stuart is very much focused on maximising the potential of Park Row, and OpenTable is helping to bring guests into the world of Gotham City.

But it’s probably best to leave the final word with Stuart: “For Park Row, OpenTable represents the best in booking, search, sociability and exposure compared to the other platforms out there.”

Or, for the DC fans out there, OpenTable is the Robin to Park Row’s Batman.

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