Five minutes with Hannah Kelly, CMO of Resy

The restaurant booking platform Resy has grown and grown over the last year or two, and it’s easy to see why. Resy connects diners to so many exciting restaurants globally. The platform, which rivals OpenTable, puts restaurants and customers on an equal footing – ensuring that restaurants can claw money back if they suffer a no-show, and that customers can grab a last-minute table at their favourite restaurants should one become available.

We caught up with Resy’s worldwide CMO Hannah Kelly to find out what it’s like working for the company and to get the inside scoop on the restaurant industry at the moment.

Five minutes with Hannah Kelly, CMO of Resy

What’s your very first memory of food?

The breakfast spread at the Victoria Jungfrau in Interlaken, Switzerland. My very first trip to Europe was to Switzerland with my father and brother. I always loved cured meats as an American child but had never been exposed to the world of pâté, bresaola, prosciutto – European cured meats and cheeses. Short-term, I over-indulged and came back wanting school lunch sandwich fixings to be procured from the local Italian butcher.

What’s the first recipe you properly learned to make?

My mom’s Caesar salad dressing which is very un-Caesar and simple in nature. She found it in a 1980s Better Homes & Garden New Cook Book. As my mom would say: simple enough for me to make. We had it nearly every weeknight. I remember calling her when I first moved to New York City after college and wanted to make something that reminded me of home. Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, chopped garlic, salt, pepper and some solid lemon squeezes.

chicken Caesar salad

What do you like to do to relax?

My husband, Claudio, is the son of an Italian restaurateur from Sorrento, Italy. Lucky for me, Claudio has learned many of his dad’s recipes and ways of cooking. I like to spend any time I can in my kitchen at home, watching my husband orchestrate the most amazing meal made out of the most simple ingredients – tomatoes, olive oil and perfectly prepared pasta. Watching the beautiful rhythm he gets into, it’s so effortless…

What’s the one dish you can’t live without?

Without a doubt, spaghetti pomodoro – a dish so simple, but made with such love and care that it truly feels like a hug of the heart. In my book, it’s the perfect midweek meal.

What ingredient would you take to a desert island with you?

It would have to be olive oil, the base of every great dish. Although garlic would be a very close second for me.

You can have a one-off dinner party on your island… who would you invite?

Lewis Hamilton, Mike Solomonov (Philadelphia-based chef, one of the most kind-hearted humans, and I believe he can make anything taste good), Julia Roberts, my grandmother Ileana (who had a different cake for every occasion), and Beyonce.

Do you have any aspirations and dreams you’ve yet to fulfil?

My biggest ambition is to take the Resy mission global. We grew up as a New York based company and have had incredible success in America. Equally, the growth we are seeing in London has been really encouraging, but I’d love to take Resy to other corners of the world. The beauty of food is that it can take people on a trip to another country through flavours, so wherever you are in the world, you can book a restaurant on Resy and be transported somewhere else.

What has been the most formative experience of your career?

For me, it was when American Express acquired Resy. Having worked for American Express for 10 years predominantly on benefits for its premium card members, this was exciting and as a lifelong foodie, being able to have a career that revolves around going out to eat is a dream come true. I love the opportunity to evaluate how our brands work together and how to make Resy the leading platform for diners to discover restaurants around the world.

Additionally, being able to work with the extended Resy team has also been incredibly formative, particularly when we needed to pivot and understand how Resy could get through COVID-19 and help the wider hospitality industry survive in a really tricky time.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

Being surrounded by and immersed in the world of food everyday. Getting to work with and be inspired by the best chefs, restaurants and hospitality leaders in the world is a true privilege. I also enjoy delving into the latest developments within the hospitality industry and chatting to the team about what the next big thing will be. This culminated in the creation of Resy’s ‘Food Forward’ Trend Report, where we revealed ten of the top trends anticipated to dominate the UK dining industry in 2023.

My favourite trend from the report was the ‘People First’ approach that we are going to be seeing more restaurants employ as we move forward. Now more than ever, it is important to ensure that you have a good working environment and support your staff, and as a business Resy is looking at ways to support restaurants in this endeavour.

Resy has made restaurant discovery even easier for Londoners. We know the platform is looking to expand throughout the UK. What is the process like for restaurants who wish to join Resy?

We try to make the process as simple as possible as we know that owning and running a restaurant is somebody’s livelihood. Resy is there to make life simpler for people and that begins as soon as partners join the platform. Every restaurant has an account manager who will set up the system and be their point of contact throughout their training and time on the platform. Resy was built for restaurants, and we work to ensure our technology continues to cater to restaurants’ needs and gives them a reliable platform.

The restaurant business is tough right now. How are Resy restaurants coping with the cost of living crisis?

The hospitality industry is definitely feeling the pressure of the cost of living crisis and our research found that 82% of Brits said that rising costs of living have had an impact on their habits when it comes to dining out. We are seeing a response from restaurants to rising costs, with an increasing number of our restaurant partners trying to make dining more affordable whilst reducing their own food waste. Moving into 2023, we’re likely to see terms such as nose-to-tail and zero-waste evolve from buzzwords to economic realities, with more restaurants also using more humble and overlooked ingredients or vegetable ‘waste’ like carrot tops as centrepieces of their dishes.

It can be tough for restaurants as customers expect the prices to stay stable every time they visit, however in most cases, this just results in thinner margins for restaurants. We are seeing more restaurants innovate by giving classic dishes a twist, playing with the ingredients to make a delicious dish at a more reasonable price.

Does the Resy platform offer benefits for hospitality workers?

We want to shine a spotlight on the industry as a whole and improve the lives of all hospitality workers working within it. Events like ‘The Women Of Food Series’ allow us to talk about real heroes of the industry and give them a platform to talk about their amazing work. Through our sponsorships of events like London Restaurant Festival and World’s 50 Best, we give the industry the backing that it deserves and use our position in the industry to help restaurants wherever we can.

Is there anything about the food industry that bugs you?

I think there is such an opportunity for food and the hospitality industry to be more approachable. I think Resy has done a really good job of educating people on different cuisines and cooking styles through our editorial content and latest trends report in a way that is inviting and welcoming to all.


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