Food is a hot topic for brands looking to build owned publications.
One of the more notable entrants is Resy, the reservations software that was purchased by American Express in 2019. That acquisition was soon followed by JPMorgan Chase’s purchase of restaurant review site The Infatuation.
In both cases, the financial giants are using content to drive customer acquisition and offer credit card customers perks and dining deals. Resy is also fully integrated into the card issuer’s operations, giving AmEx cardholders access to restaurants and special events.
For Resy, content isn’t a new focus. Since 2018, it has used editorial content in an attempt to differentiate itself from other reservations platforms. Content is front and center on its homepage, and editorial franchises include Interviews, Guides and spotlights on specific topics, such as “Chinatowns in the United States.” It also puts out a handful of newsletters, including The Hit List and New on Resy, as well as data-driven reports such as a 2023 “Future of Dining in the U.K.” project. Resy had 11.2 million visitors in July on both desktop and mobile, and the brand says the company’s publishing endeavors have helped increase reservations on the platform by 4000%.
In 2019, it hired former San Francisco Chronicle food-and-wine editor and Eater SF founding editor Paolo Lucchesi its first-ever editorial director. We spoke with Lucchesi about how he structures his editorial team and why Resy is attempting to create a new kind of “food media.” Edited highlights below.
What’s the mission of Resy’s publishing approach?
It’s really to tell the stories of restaurants. Our main goal is to really just help connect diners with restaurants, and vice versa. We believe that every restaurant has a story. And we are here to tell our stories. Our target audience are people who love restaurants. We are your friend who loves restaurants that you ask for advice, you know, like “what’s hot? What’s hot right now? What’s opening? I want to go to XYZ kind of restaurant tonight, what’s a good place?” I don’t think there’s a best restaurant. But there might be a best restaurant for you to go to tonight. And we have a really great opportunity to tell stories that maybe haven’t been told, or that aren’t being told. We obviously have a bit of an inside track to these restaurants, the world’s best restaurants, which is a really just great and unique lane, I think, to be in.
How do you think about various audience segments and what is interesting to each of them?
We have 21 priority markets, mostly in the U.S., but also London and Sydney. So we feel strongly about working with the best writers in those markets. We’re kind of everywhere, but we have local stories, we want to be written by locals. And I think that is a huge part of how we earn readers trust – by having good recommendations by telling good stories, by understanding what are the interesting stories to be told. So we definitely rely on our local contributors. And then there’s the access part. We do have access to places and we have restaurant partners in the cities where we have relationships.
How is your team structured?
Our editorial team is five. We have a dedicated New York editor, Deanna Ting. We have a dedicated London editor in David Paw, we have a staff writer in Noëmie Carrant, and we have a managing editor in Jon Bonné. And I’m the editorial director. We also have elsewhere in the marketing department, we have folks who are dedicated to email and social and you know, visuals and stuff like that. But they sit adjacent and are not under the editorial umbrella. And then we work with the best writers we can, including columnists and food writers. We average about 70 to 80 articles a month. And we rightsize that depending on the market, like where we see traffic is.
What’s your pitch to editorial talent to come work for you?
We pay competitively. And we’re trying to do great work. We can put writers in a position to succeed, with photographers and illustrators and we can be the place where people can write the story they’ve always wanted to. I think what’s really interesting to me is be on the crest of a new kind of food media, there is so much connectivity into the other realms of Resy. There’s a real connectivity from the reader to make a reservation. That’s kind of cool. There’s real connectivity to an event. For example, we there was a new exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum where Oxalis was doing an event to explore dinner, art and history. We did a great piece, Osayi Endolyn, a food writer wrote it, about the intersection of food and art. I don’t see a lot of other publications that could do something like that, partially because we have access to the chef and the museum. We bring credibility and rigor of journalism to what we do. And we’re well sourced and we want to earn our readers.
What’s different about working in brand publishing vs. in traditional journalism?
I think in most food media there’s a line between their subject and their publication. We don’t have that, or it’s a bit blurred. There are some stories that we probably wouldn’t write. And we don’t have to be newsy if we don’t want to. For media, whether it’s Eater or the Times or The Chronicle, if something happens, or breaks, there has to be sometimes a response. We can be a little more selective in kind of the stories we want to tell. We can choose to ignore something. Of course we like to break stories, and we have, but it’s different. We also do have independence from the rest of Resy. For example, we have a Classics project, which is about older restaurants, and a lot of those either don’t take reservations and aren’t on Resy. We still want to celebrate them, you know, and I think that’s super important.