Trending in Lebanon: Online Restaurant Reservations with ReserveOut
In this era of all things digital, you can do practically anything from the comfort of your computer or, ever more popularly, your smartphone.
By everything, I mean you could scour Oysho’s current inventory at their Beirut Souks branch. You could transfer money or pay bills using online banking. You could browse burger diners in Sin el Fil and their associated customer reviews. You could even secure dinner reservations at Bodo the bar, or fancy-pants Yabani, tonight at 8:30.
Here in Lebanon.
You read right. We all know how trends and frenzies take a little bit more time to reach us from both Occident and Orient. We’re a (very) reactionary people who clings to traditions, values, culture, and etiquette.
But wasn’t it high time that we could book a table online at our own leisure, totally bypassing some snooty, faux-French-speaking receptionist who, pretending the restaurant is fully booked, sneers at our ambitiousness? Wouldn’t you like to know when the restaurant opens for seating, what time slots are available, what the menu contains, and perhaps a blurb about the history of the institution?
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Well, unbeknownst to many in our neck of the woods, you can. In fact, for nearly three years, we’ve had that capacity thanks to ReserveOut, an online restaurant reservation platform that operates across eight cities in the region, from Beirut and Amman to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
In greater Beirut, ReserveOut features 150 dining establishments. The emphasis is on upper-end eateries like Harry’s Bar, Moti Mahal, and Venezia at the Hilton Metropolitan. But also listed is a slew of bars and gastropubs, which would cater to tourists unfamiliar with the local hospitality scene. Thus, ReserveOut doubles as a directory.
Here’s how it works:
The homepage allows you to immediately launch the booking process if you know the restaurant name, date and time of your intended visit. Be sure to sign-in first or create a username and password if you’re new to the site to store all your customer details and history. If you care to browse through all restaurants, you certainly can, refining your search by cuisine, neighborhood, and relative pricing ($, $$, $$$ or $$$$).
If availability is found at your designated place and time, you can further specify smoking or non-smoking sections and any special note to the host. Upon submission of your request, you receive a confirmation email. Once the reservation request has been acknowledged by the restaurant, you receive an SMS. Good and done.
If availability is not found, then you have two options. The first is to be waitlisted. The second is to view the nearest time slots wherein the restaurant has open tables and to secure one of them.
Should you need to modify your reservation after booking, you can do so by logging in to your profile and adjusting the particulars.
What’s nifty about ReserveOut is the profile each restaurant has, encompassing useful tidbits like the history of the eatery, hours of service, ambiance, suggested attire, directions, contacts, menus (update is in process), and customer reviews, if they exist. There’s also info on facilities like WiFi presence, parking, alcohol, walk-ins, and outdoor seating.
I’ve been utilizing ReserveOut since 2013, namely for places like Couqley that fill up quickly. The advantage of the online tool is that you have access to all available time slots based on the number of guests in your dining party. There’s no need to go back and forth with an operator, and you can book at 2 a.m. if that’s your fancy.
Best part? No snooty, Francophile receptionist can rebuff you. It’s just you and your monitor.