First Table celebrates a decade of innovation and connection

WORDS: Andrew Meadowcroft PHOTOGRAPHY Brian Usher -

As First Table marks its tenth anniversary in September this year, the restaurant discovery platform is celebrating a decade of revolutionising the way food enthusiasts engage with venues and cuisines and providing restaurants with a unique tool to attract off-peak diners.

Since its humble beginnings in Queenstown in 2014 and expansion to the Gold Coast in October 2015, the company has grown to operate in over 50 cities globally.

The concept for First Table was sparked by founder Mat Weir’s experience at a small French restaurant in Queenstown, which offered 50% off the food bill when you booked the first table of the night.

The ‘locals’ secret’ was used as a promotional tool by the restaurant to attract other diners by seating them at a table visible to those passing by outside.

This idea led Mat, a software developer, to create an online marketplace that benefits both diners and restaurants by enhancing visibility and dining traffic during quieter times.

After successfully launching the platform in New Zealand, Mat introduced First Table to Sydney’s Manly just one year later, in September 2015 and then expanded to Queensland shortly after.

He recalls, “Imagine a software developer, usually behind a screen, now walking the streets, pitching First Table to restaurant owners in the Gold Coast. It was a huge leap out of my comfort zone,” he says with a laugh.

This personal involvement in onboarding partners underscores First Table’s tailored approach in each market, ensuring that the platform’s benefits are a win-win for diners and restaurants.

Reflecting on the past decade, Mat expressed his enthusiasm for the future: “Looking back, I am amazed at what we’ve accomplished – since we launched in Queensland in 2015, we’ve delivered over 80,000 off-peak reservations, filling 231,000 covers for over 100 partner restaurants.”

He said. “As we move forward, we’re excited to continue evolving and growing the platform, ensuring that we keep connecting people with fantastic food experiences around the world,” Mat added.

Erfan Jalilian, proud owner of the award-winning Shiraz Persian Restaurant and Bar, has been a First Table partner restaurant since 2018.

“I first decided to join First Table in 2018 as I saw it as an opportunity not only to fill tables that were available but also to attract a new audience to experience Shiraz that may not have known about my restaurant and Persian cuisine.

It was also an opportunity to convert them into loyal customers,” Erfan said. “Since 2018, we have had over 1,100 bookings from First Table, a total of over 3,200 guests, which has been an extremely valuable contribution to my revenue generation. This platform has allowed us to showcase the richness of Persian cuisine and hospitality to a broader audience, enhancing our reputation and customer base,” he added.

Today, First Table connects over 1.4 million foodies with over 1,700 restaurant partners across Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. The platform’s success lies not only in its numbers but also in how it has transformed dining culture. It encourages people to try new cuisines, enjoy more meals with friends and family, and support the hospitality industry by filling otherwise empty tables.

The First Table app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.