Cassi Pittman Claytor
Assistant Professor of Sociology, Case Western Reserve University
Before the pandemic, Tock was a reservation platform for high-end and fine-dining restaurants. Then shortly before the shutdowns started, reservations plummeted to zero.
Kokonas, who himself owns a restaurant — Michelin heavyweight Alinea, in Chicago — quickly pivoted to providing restaurants with alternative streams of income during the pandemic.
“We realized that the only option for any type of restaurant, even the fine-dining ones, was carry-out operations,” Kokonas says. Tock added carry-out and delivery options, take-home experiences, vouchers for future reservations, and groceries.
Then, something strange and wonderful happened: Other kinds of businesses started using Tock. There were 3,000 restaurants using Tock at the beginning of the pandemic. By late July, that was up to 5,000, and Tock’s clients included wineries, galleries, small farms, boutiques, and even car dealerships.
Kokonas had always planned on taking Tock beyond restaurants, but the pandemic has given him a big reason to: social distancing. Tock’s time slotting system helps businesses to operate safely by controlling their flow of customers.
Kokonas says he finds much more meaning in his work these days. “Our mission went from improving businesses to something that was really a critical lifeline for the industry,” Kokonas says.