Go bigger and bolder with the BizBash Buzz.
The BizBash Buzz newsletter delivers inspiration, innovative ideas, and expert insight to event profs around the world.
Subscribe now!

Industry Innovators 2022: Resy

The American Express-owned brand aims to bring the dining experience to life in new ways.

Platinum Coast provided a unique waterfront dining experience with a 225-foot floating pop-up restaurant on Manhattan’s East River.
Platinum Coast provided a unique waterfront dining experience with a 225-foot floating pop-up restaurant on Manhattan’s East River.
Photo: Eugene Gologursky

"Industry Innovators 2022: 10 Brands Shaping the Future of Event Marketing" is sponsored by Hubilo, a leading virtual and hybrid event platform built to drive engagement, with clients including Deloitte, Coca-Cola, Amazon Web Services and more.

The Basics: The in-house event team at the online restaurant-reservation service company is tasked with most of the dining programming for American Express as well as Resy users, with the goal of translating the magic of a restaurant experience into new formats. In October 2020, the brand debuted its elevated drive-thru dining concept in Los Angeles that included a 10-course tasting menu that guests could enjoy without leaving their cars. Since then, Resy has continued to push the boundaries of outdoor dining events.

The Resy Drive-Thru was held in Los Angeles in October 2020 and in Miami (pictured) in March 2021.The Resy Drive-Thru was held in Los Angeles in October 2020 and in Miami (pictured) in March 2021.Photo: Courtesy of ResyMost Innovative Event: In September, to promote the launch of American Express’s new Global Dining Access program, Resy built a five-day pop-up restaurant located on a 225-foot floating barge in New York’s East River. The space, called Platinum Coast, was decked out with a contemporary design, lush greenery, a live DJ after dark and a limited number of tables for up to six people. Each night highlighted a different chef, bringing in top names like Kwame Onwuachi, Mike Solomonov, Nancy Silverton, Stephanie Izard, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo.

“I think there's been some great waterfront concepts before, but I don't think anyone's actually taken an official barge and created a restaurant for five days and put some of the world's best chefs on it to create this completely different experience with the New York skyline as a backdrop,” said Vanessa Leitman, Resy’s head of experiential. “I think it’s a great example of how American Express and Resy can come together and what we can both offer card members as far as special access and offerings as well as Resy users. It was a beautiful culmination of showcasing the power of both brands together.”

Each day a different chef took over the pop-up and curated menus for lunch, dinner and more.Each day a different chef took over the pop-up and curated menus for lunch, dinner and more.Photo: Sam OrtizThe Biggest Challenge: “How do you replicate the magic and hospitality that you feel inside a restaurant? How do you take the design, the music, the lighting, the energy that happens in the kitchen, the choreographed service?" Leitman asked. “So to build a restaurant from scratch, whether it's on a 250-foot barge or doing it as a pop-up diner, it takes a lot of production and a lot of thought and that's what we're really focusing on.”

Event Philosophy: “Resy is really more than a utility. We're more than a place that you go to book a reservation. We're about restaurant discovery, the stories of people behind the restaurants, and how do we connect that?” Leitman said. “And so our events really allow us to connect all the dots of who we are in the best way possible. Our event philosophy is about enhancing the magic of restaurants and deepening the relationship between restaurants and diners.”

Lessons Learned in 2021: “I think this year we probably had to be more creative and more daring than we ever have. And I think the lesson is to keep that momentum and not fall into the same pattern of what's been done before or what's tried and true," Leitman said, citing the drive-thru experiences as a risky endeavor that paid off. “And I think that's a major lesson for the team: stay daring, think big and continue that momentum.”

American Express and Resy created exclusive outdoor dining experiences for card members across the U.S. in early 2021. In Chicago, Kehoe Designs created 10 yurts with varying designs.American Express and Resy created exclusive outdoor dining experiences for card members across the U.S. in early 2021. In Chicago, Kehoe Designs created 10 yurts with varying designs.Photo: Courtesy of Kehoe Designs

During the pandemic, Resy shifted its focus from indoor restaurant events to unconventional outdoor gatherings like a two-night Supper Club series set on a ranch in Malibu in October.During the pandemic, Resy shifted its focus from indoor restaurant events to unconventional outdoor gatherings like a two-night Supper Club series set on a ranch in Malibu in October.Photo: Philip Guerette

The new Global Dining Access Program by Resy gives Platinum card members exclusive reservations at some of the world’s top restaurants, access to premium events and other perks like priority notifications and VIP status.The new Global Dining Access Program by Resy gives Platinum card members exclusive reservations at some of the world’s top restaurants, access to premium events and other perks like priority notifications and VIP status.Photo: Eugene Gologursky