OpenTable partners with colleges to manage student dining

OpenTable is partnering with colleges to help them manage dining areas as students return to campus during the coronavirus pandemic.

The San Francisco-based restaurant reservation service said it’s offering its technology to universities for free. Students can make on-campus reservations through the OpenTable app and see descriptions of menus or safety measures. Students can also be notified by text when a table is available.

“Reservations allow campus dining establishments to safely manage capacity and pace the flow of students,” OpenTable’s Chief Operating Officer Andrea Johnson said in a statement.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison started using OpenTable on June 22 for the Memorial Union Terrace, an outdoor dining space. Spokeswoman Shauna Breneman said the reservation system ensures that the restaurant stays at 25% capacity with six feet between tables.

Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, is also using OpenTable to reduce density in its dining areas. St. Norbert College in Wisconsin and Bowie State University in Maryland will let students reserve seats through OpenTable for the dining halls in their student centers.

The partnership could also introduce new customers to OpenTable, which has been hammered by the pandemic. The number of seated diners per night in OpenTable’s partner restaurants was down 60% globally in mid-July. The company has also cut the fees it normally collects.

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