2 years Restu.cz - interview with CEO Pavel Suchanek

Make easy, fast and reliable reservations

“I guess it was destiny,” says Pavel Suchanek of his popular restaurant reservation and review service Restu. “No matter what you do, you’re always spinning around certain areas of interest.”

Restu allows users in the Czech Republic to search for the best restaurants in their areas, make reservations, and read and write restaurant reviews. The company that is both a website and mobile app and that recently celebrated its two-year anniversary includes nearly every restaurant in the country. Pavel says users have posted roughly 100,000 reviews to the site. Restu has been so successful that Pavel soon plans to expand into Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.

Food and drink have been “areas of interest” for the entrepreneur throughout his life. He grew up on a farm in the Czech Republic and once dreamed of owning his own microbrewery. He even studied at a school that is renowned for its biochemistry and biotechnologies programs, the University of Chemistry and Technology here in Prague. After moving to Canada to play hockey, however, he earned a scholarship to the University of British Columbia, which had “no such programs.”

He began to study economics, but his foodie passions persisted. Pavel remained in Canada for several years and worked for the agricultural bank Farm Credit Canada. After moving home to the Czech Republic and briefly working for a bank that had no ties to the food industry, he decided to open a business of his own.

“Though I was making decent money, yet, you’re thinking, ‘Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life?’ Perhaps change to do something else you like more,” he remembers of his decision to transition to a new career entirely.

What followed was not Restu, but the company out of which Restu has grown, ALAKARTE. That online service listed “boutique, unique places for gourmands who like eating out and wanted to find something exclusive [but] didn’t have time to look around various restaurants.”

Unfortunately, this first attempt at a tech-restaurant service was not “scalable.” After several years, he partnered with an investment capital group.

“Out of the base of ALAKARTE we transformed [it] into Restu and made it a lot bigger. We included all restaurants and started processing reservations to any restaurant on the market, and most of all, started advertising services, which before were limited,” he explains.

Restu is an uncomplicated service that is easy to use. Simply search by city, type of cuisine, or even the name of a restaurant. You can not only make a reservation (if the restaurant accepts them), and read or write a review, but also peruse many restaurants’ menus. Registered users can also collect points toward meal vouchers worth 300czk. Writing a review earns you 20 points, for instance, while making a reservation for more than six people is worth 60 points. These vouchers that are not redeemable for cash are accepted at more than 500 restaurants.

Pavel says it “was not difficult” and “still is not difficult” to partner with restaurants throughout the country. Although, he does believe that “some restaurants do not realize the potential they can get from utilizing [the internet] effectively, by having, say, mobile-optimized sites, by having webpages that actually convert into real guests rather than site visitors.

“How you work with the data, how you make it current, how you communicate with customers… not just leaving [them] when they go home without actually collecting some information about them,” is very important. “And this is what we do for restaurants,” he says, “help them build a database of customers.”

These customers are no less of a priority for Pavel. Should someone prove unhappy with her visit to a restaurant she found on Restu, the company will first notify the restaurant of her poor review, and then contact the customer itself, if the restaurant does not do so. Although Restu does not delete bad reviews and “will never do that,” the team does monitor content.

“We review and check everything thoroughly so we publish only data we can stand behind.”

Pavel is still parsing the data he acquired from a recent analytics report, but he does know that the majority of people who use Restu are women, they spend on average 300 crowns per visit, and which restaurants are the most popular.

Some of his findings have been surprising.

One restaurant that is a favorite among users is located “in the middle of nowhere… where people drive from all over the country just to eat their beef” that comes from a nearby beef farm.

“The cows and bulls feed on green grass, the meat is aged properly,” he explains of the geographically inconvenient but worthwhile Hospudka U Stepana.

It’s one of many restaurants that Pavel and his website with its intelligent algorithm can recommend to diners in the Czech Republic. There is still work to be done and “some loose ends” to tie up before Pavel begins to expand to neighboring countries, but then, his ambition is a secondary concern.

His first priority is customer service.

“Now it’s time to play with the user data and actually fit the content that we have to the users’ tastes and preferences, so we’re better able to recommend places that would interest you.”

Book your table now with Restu.cz

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