Judy McMahon, Owner, Catalina

One of Australia’s most iconic restaurants replaces the book with the TheFork



Catalina was established in 1994 and is a part of the Sydney dining establishment. Known for its modern Australian cuisine, stylish decor and superb harbour views, Catalina owner Judy McMahon has always believed you have to be innovative to be successful. When first approached to join TheFork (formerly Dimmi) restaurant reservations, Judy had experienced online booking with flights and hotels and “got it”, she understood how online bookings made life easier.

After some initial concerns about replacing ‘the book’ with an online reservation system, and the practical question of where to put a laptop for front of house access were solved, the set-up, training and support provided by TheFork team made implementation easy. The enormous potential of TheFork was enough to have Judy trial the product and the ongoing success is what has kept Judy and her team at Catalina using TheFork and discovering its full potential.


The Catalina team have found the TheFork system very easy to use, as it is a web based platform allowing access to the system anywhere and anytime – even allowing multiple people to use the TheFork system at any one time.

One of the keys to success for this iconic Rose Bay Sydney restaurant is the easy to view Online Reservations Diary providing quick access to booking information. The colour coded system shows TheFork bookings in yellow, phone bookings are entered into the system are blue, special requests are index flagged, confirmed reservations appear in orange and any VIP customers are highlighted in red. This allows the team to very quickly assess where bookings are coming from and if anything specific for those bookings is required. The bookings layout on the screen allows for the whole team to see where more bookings can be taken, helping Catalina to maximise its seating for each service. This simply cannot be done using the book.

From a management perspective each staff member has their own log in so tracking who has written special requests or changed seating is easy. The in-built yield management functionality helps staff to maximise bookings, it can be used to prevent overbooking or ensure phone bookings are only taken for certain seatings – TheFork system has made the work flow easier and more efficient for Catalina management and staff.

The customer database of the Online Reservations Diary helps to ensure anyone who books through TheFork and dines at Catalina is welcomed back as a friend as the system stores their phone number, email, any special requests. VIPs can be recognised by all staff members as the system flags them and staff can access their profile which shows how many times they have dined at the restaurant in the past, preferences and likes and dislikes. With the information not just in the Restaurant Managers head, this empowers all Catalina staff to build relationships with customers, showing them they are a welcome and respected diner.

The streamlined booking process and better understanding of the customers are obvious benefits, but a huge bonus has been how TheFork allows Catalina management to consolidate their back of house operations in conjunction with maximising their seating availability. The visual system is much easier to read than the old book which means a manager can quickly assess if more or less staff are required, helping with the efficiency and costing of staffing levels. For the same reasons, at times.

Catalina has been able to double table occupancy because it is easier to see if there is space. Catalina customers love the TheFork confirmation emails that immediately follow a booking and the reminder emails 24 hours prior to the booking, helping to reduce no shows and letting customers know that Catalina looks forward to welcoming them. It just makes the whole reservation process much more professional and personalised.

TheFork has introduced a whole new group of diners to Catalina, with a younger crowd coming to dine for the first time. They are browsing restaurants online and booking to eat immediately, the access to the TheFork Booking Network provides Catalina with a marketing reach and capability that would otherwise have been impossible.

Using TheFork, instant restaurant reservation and the unique Online Reservations Diary has allowed Catalina to move from working day to day, to looking weeks in advance with the simplicity of the system and the visual ease of TheFork. This has provided Catalina with a more efficient working environment and has increase revenue and bookings.

Join over 4,500 Australian restaurants already using TheFork- Get your TheFork account now -

Join TheFork and you will:

  • Be featured on TheFork, TripAdvisor and our partner websites
  • Receive bookings 24/7, from your own web page and Facebook - from anywhere, on any device
  • Have your bookings centralised in one software system
  • Have access to a dedicated Account Manager whose role is to help you get the most out of the site
  • Receive monthly business performance reports
  • Have restaurant support available to you 7 days a week for assistance with operational queries

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