Ibby’s adopts new online system, brings back table reservations

Noah Slaughter | Staff Reporter

Following customer demand for the ability to set aside tables in advance, Ibby’s began accepting reservations Dec. 3, the first time since the 2018-19 school year.

Photo by Grace Bruton

The restaurant stopped using the Yelp-based No Wait system that it had used in the previous year, which let customers join the waitlist for a table ahead of time but did not allow reservations.

The new system, Open Table, gives diners the option to either join the waitlist, like they could through No Wait, or make a reservation in advance. Operations Manager at the Danforth University Center Dining Services Ivy Magruder hopes the new method for getting a spot in the restaurant will appeal to a larger range of customers than No Wait did by giving customers an opportunity to plan ahead and secure a table.

“This was clamoring from our guests,” Magruder said. “They wanted a platform like this. It may seem overnight, but there was a lot of research that went into it and a lot of ‘We hear you’ and ‘We want to make your guest experience better.’”

Magruder hopes that the new system will effectively combine both methods of getting a table.

“It truly is the best of both worlds,” Magruder said. “Before, when it was so strict and reservations only, there was no flexibility or fluidity to it, so that’s why we switched to [No Wait], but now that they’ve got [Open Table], it allows us to do both.”

Open Table is a popular app for restaurants around the country, so many students and faculty members already have the app downloaded on their phones, which was one of the main reasons for selecting Open Table as the reservation platform.

“There’s a comfort factor, so I’m really encouraged by that,” Magruder said. “‘I already have the app on my phone,’ we heard a lot of that. That’s what Open Table allows us to do: ease for the guest.”

According to Magruder, Open Table will also integrate the restaurant’s Point of Sale system with the reservation process. Customers will have a more accurate estimate of wait times and table availabilities based on when diners in the restaurant pay, whereas wait times with No Wait had less precise windows.

“This will give you more real-time information, so it’s a really smooth system,” Magruder said.

Marketing Manager for Dining Services Brittni Walters, who worked to spread the word about the change by sending out email notifications, creating signs and updating Ibby’s website, said she was pleased with the system’s roll-out online.

“The transition on the website went fairly easy, and we have a good relationship with customer care if there are ever any issues,” Walters said.

According to Ibby’s manager Tim Zingrich, the new system was successful in its first days and reservations have been coming in steadily.

“People have been really liking the system,” Zingrich said. “No issues so far.”

Walters and Magruder encourage customers to use the Open Table app, but they can also make reservations on the restaurant’s website, through an online link or by calling Ibby’s. As always, customers can also simply walk in and see if there are tables available.

“The reason why we did this is that we need to work and you need to relax, and this is a perfect example of making your life easier, which selfishly makes our lives easier,” Magruder said. “If you’re happy, we’re happy.”

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