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Finance Bros Disrupted the Reservation Game - Until Their Bubble Burst

Imagine being able to snag a table at the hottest restaurant in Manhattan without weeks of waiting or constantly checking for cancellations. For a group of online enthusiasts known as #FreeRezy, getting a reservation at...

Imagine being able to snag a table at the hottest restaurant in Manhattan without weeks of waiting or constantly checking for cancellations. For a group of online enthusiasts known as #FreeRezy, getting a reservation at Dhamaka, one of the city's most buzzed-about Indian restaurants, became as simple as saying, "Dhamaka on Saturday, please."

Dhamaka releases its reservations at midnight each day, making it a highly sought-after dining experience. Owner Roni Mazumdar reveals that as many as 1,500 people can be waiting every night, hoping for a lucky cancellation. Securing a spot at Dhamaka is akin to winning the lottery.

According to Cole, the trio stumbled upon their game-changing side project last fall. They noticed that securing a hot reservation usually required extensive planning, but with a slight breach of Resy's terms of service, it could be much easier. "The value to someone in the group is you don't have to plan a month in advance. People in their 20s have busy schedules," Cole explains.

Over the past three months, #FreeRezy manually booked more than 1,000 restaurant reservations. They meticulously scoured the internet for dropped reservations, set alarms throughout the day, and booked multiple tables from various Resy accounts. On their peak day, they managed to secure over 70 reservations, including highly coveted tables at Michelin-starred establishments like Cosme and Le Bernardin. Their success attracted members from all walks of life, including famous artists and tech-savvy finance workers.

While last-minute planners reveled in their fortune, restaurants weren't as thrilled. Mazumdar, the owner of Dhamaka, noticed customers arriving with names that didn't match their vaccination cards or driver's licenses. The situation became so problematic that precautions had to be taken to avoid seating the wrong party. Nom Wah Tea Parlor, another restaurant occasionally listed on #FreeRezy, saw no significant issues but acknowledged the potential frustration for customers. However, they believed that as long as it didn't result in excessive no-shows, revenue was still coming in.

This isn't the first time the reservation system has been disrupted in New York City. In the past, websites like PrimeTime Tables and TableXchange offered reservations for sale, and Killer Rezzy plagued the renowned Minetta Tavern. These disruptions create additional barriers in an already competitive industry.

While the founders of #FreeRezy were banned from Resy, they remain unapologetic. Disruption always comes with drawbacks, according to Steve. Cole admits, "I'd do it again."

A screenshot from a message on Telegram, an encrypted messaging platform, announcing the end of an online group called #FreeRezy. #FreeRezy came to an end on February 4. Telegram screenshot

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