After shifting operations to help restaurants take carryout orders during a pandemic that made indoor dining risky, Chicago-based Tock has been acquired by Squarespace for $400 million in cash and stock, according to a news release. Tock, co-founded in 2014 by Alinea Group’s Nick Kokonas, became the go-to reservation portal for Michelin-starred restaurants such as French Laundry in Yountville, California, and Eleven Madison Park in New York.
Kokonas and company created the site to reduce customer no-shows: When Tock launched, the site required customers to prepay for their meals — a controversial strategy, but one that restaurants owners said better ensured seats were full.
OpenTable was Tock’s main rival, and Kokonas constantly took shots at the platform, which was sold in 2014 for $2.6 billion to Priceline Group. He called OpenTable a dinosaur, saying that the interface was antiquated and didn’t allow for flexibility; for example, restaurants couldn’t intuitively add special events or pop-ups. Another rival, Resy, was sold in 2019 to American Express.
Amazing news… Tock has been acquired by Squarespace! I remain CEO of Tock & our entire team will join with SQSP to support our clients in digitally connecting with the world – elegantly and with the same spirit of innovation we’ve fervently embracedhttps://t.co/sse97ByNi5
— nick kokonas (@nickkokonas) March 31, 2021
The city of Chicago praised Tock last year for helping restaurants — particularly ones that have never sold food to-go — sell carryout and delivery orders. At a 3 percent commission, it was more affordable for restaurants compared to the 15 to 30 percent in fees that other third parties like DoorDash and Grubhub charge its clients. Tock has also expanded its footprint to include more than elite restaurants and to offer traditional reservations, not just ones that are prepaid. Museums, pizzerias, and dive bars are among new clients picked up during 2020.
Squarespace is a based in New York and known for building websites. In January, officials said it confidentially filed for an IPO, according to Bloomberg. Tock’s team remains in place in Chicago and Kokonas is still its CEO. Kokonas declined comment when reached Wednesday afternoon. A Squarespace news release states that there won’t be any changes to service for clients that use Tock, but that Squarespace customers will see changes “to access Tock’s technology in the coming months.”
Tock counts about 7,000 hospitality clients across the country and has processed more than $10 billion in sales across 200 cities, according to a news release.
Disclosure: Resy’s Ben Leventhal was one of the co-founders of Eater, but is no longer involved in its operations.