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CityEats Launches In Chicago

By Anthony Todd in Food on Aug 1, 2013 7:20PM

2013_8_1_CityEats.png Watch out, OpenTable, there's a new kid in town. CityEats, an online reservation platform backed by The Food Network, officially launched in Chicago yesterday.

We've thought for years that the restaurant reservation market was ripe for some sort of competition. OpenTable works well for diners (though perhaps not so much so for restaurants) but it's really the only major option out there. Small competitors have popped up from time to time, but none have gained any traction until now.

Before launching in Chicago, CityEats was already running in six other cities: New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and South Florida. There are significant differences between CityEats and OpenTable, both on the front and back ends. The customer will notice much more content to help them pick restaurants. "We've worked with some of the city's best-known and most knowledgeable food writers to craft reviews of each restaurant, including insider tips and recommendations on the very best dishes to order," explained Editor Erin Hartigan. Those writers include former Sun-Times critic Michael Nagrant, Time Out Chicago Dining Editor Amy Cavanaugh, former Eater Editor Ari Bendersky, David Hammond, Samantha Lande, Tess Hartigan and Chicagoist's own food and drink editor Anthony Todd.

Rather than a simple description, each restaurant page boasts a lot of information that can help diners pick a restaurant. In addition, there are plenty of pretty pictures, menus and user reviews. Diners can create wish lists of restaurants they want to dine at. Like OpenTable, there's a rewards system; unlike OpenTable, it's very flexible. In addition to accumulating points for going to restaurants, users get points for writing reviews, completing their profile and more. These points turn into gift certificates for Amazon, iTunes or, for the more charitable, donations to Share Our Strength.

For restauranteurs, the back-end system pretty cool as well. If you're a total geek about how reservations work, take a look at the video below to see some of the features from that side of the counter.

City Eats Table Saver from LaunchSquad Video on Vimeo.