Colorful produce section at DeCicco & Sons

Reservations for grocery shopping? DeCicco’s partners with OpenTable

DeCicco & Sons, with locations in Ardsley, Armonk, Brewster, Harrison, Larchmont, Millwood, Pelham and Somers, is now taking reservations online via the free OpenTable app.

Colorful produce section at DeCicco & Sons

Yes, that’s right. You can now make a reservation to shop for groceries.

The new service, which could be the wave of the future in grocery stores, at least for the immediate future, started at the Pelham store May 7 and has expanded to all locations as of May 11.

OpenTable, for those who’ve never used it, is a free online restaurant reservation service.

According to DeCicco’s Brittany Arocho, who, as the store’s event planner is leading the charge on the new initiative, ​using OpenTable reduces the time customers have to spend with other shoppers and better enforces social distancing. It also saves the customer a lot of time and uncertainty.

“Instead of coming to the store, potentially having to wait in line — and not knowing for how long — the customer shows up at their reservation time and is able to go directly into the store,” she explained. “It makes shopping a lot more efficient.”

Shoppers can still go to all DeCicco & Sons stores without a reservation.

“Think of it like Disney’s FastPass,” explained co-owner Chris DeCicco. “You can still wait in line but with the reservation you can go in right away.”

The program, he said, was begun to ensure the safety of customers and team members and to help minimize lines. It also helps staff more accurately track the flow of customers.

So far, the feedback from both customers and team members has been positive, said Arocho. Because only a handful of spots are put aside each hour for OpenTable reservations, there’s been minimal impact on walk-up customers. “The algorithm considers the amount we put aside as well as expected walk up customers,” she said.

So far, this is the only grocery store OpenTable is working with in the Lower Hudson Valley, although there’s an opportunity to bring more on board.

“Consumer habits are shifting,” said Joseph Essas, OpenTable’s chief technology officer. “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, our software enables our restaurant partners to pivot to takeout, delivery and storefront business models. We hope this new solution provides similar support for retailers and grocers to help them safely manage the influx of shoppers.”

The family-owned DeCicco’s has been a pioneer in establishing new protocols during the coronavirus and was the first to initiate plexiglass barriers between cashiers and adjust hours for seniors and those with compromised immune systems.

Other changes include a sanitation routine, queuing and limiting store capacity. The stores mandated and provided masks and gloves for all employees long before they were required by the governor.

DeCicco & Sons, it should be noted, is not affiliated with DeCicco Family Markets which has locations in Scarsdale, Katonah, Jefferson Valley and New City.