As 2020 Draws to a Close, OpenTable CEO Debby Soo Gives Thanks to Restaurants

Photo: Debby Soo

This Thanksgiving, The New York Times published readers’ words on gratitude. One submission jumped out at me— “My restaurant colleagues, who never quit.” My mind immediately went to countless examples of grit and innovation I saw at restaurants this year, dining behind my mask outdoors or picking up takeout to feed my family. Nothing rings more true. 

As businesses were forced to shutter overnight and adapt to new operational norms on the fly, restaurants did what they always always do: when life got tough, they worked harder. They pivoted their sidewalks, curbside, and parking lot spaces to welcome diners to outdoor experiences. They took the precautions needed to ensure a safe and healthy environment. And they reimagined their menus for takeout—all the while, reminding us all why we love restaurants so much. 

Restaurants’ creativity, resilience, and determination to persevere despite the challenges gives meaning to what we do. At OpenTable, we could not be more proud of our incredible restaurant partners and optimistic for 2021. With vaccines on the horizon, we will gather again in dining rooms.

Like restaurants, our teams have dug in with a similar never-quit, customer-first ethos, evolving as the times demand. In every city that reopens, covers come back the minute tables are waiting, as shown by the 75 million free covers driven through our Open Door relief pricing program this year. We also created ways to diversify revenue streams with new takeout and experiences products, and helped restaurants cut costs by waiving subscription fees through March 2021.

And 2020 brought change to our teams as well—at the end of this year, we are saying goodbye to Andrea Johnston, our beloved COO, who has long been a familiar face and integral member of our restaurant community. From her ability to lead with empathy to her innumerable relationships with all of you, OpenTable will not be the same without her. 

As restaurants keep the spirit of hospitality bright, we’ll continue to be here to help with the products, features and support to emerge from a difficult time stronger, wiser, and ready to take on 2021.

From all of us at OpenTable, here’s to the future of our restaurant community.