Would you be willing to prepay for your meal in exchange for a reservation? Would you pay extra for that meal to score a reservation at a choice time?
Diners at Grant Achatz’s newest Chicago restaurant, Next, do just that. Achatz, an innovator in the field of molecular gastronomy, experienced overwhelming success with his restaurant Alinea, which opened in 2005. That success guaranteed instant interest in — and reservation requests for — his latest venture.
To secure a reservation at this highly anticipated spot, guests must purchase advance tickets for prix fixe meals and beverage pairings, pay an 18% tip and shell out a premium for peak times. And, like concert tickets, there are no refunds or cancellations. The restaurant reserves a single table each night for walk-ins.
Consider this from the restaurant’s perspective. Prepayment eliminates the problem of no-shows. Hiring a reservationist is no longer necessary. And by handling payment in advance, tables can be turned more quickly. Restaurants also have the benefit of being able to accurately predict the number and timing of guests, enabling them to staff and purchase food efficiently. From that standpoint, it makes sense.
But, will diners bite? Do you really want to be locked into a reservation? (Yes, the tickets can be resold, but that’s a hassle.) How do you feel about prepaying an 18% tip? At Next, it seems to be working. When I checked the restaurant’s website yesterday, there were no tickets remaining.
What about here in Atlanta? Are there restaurants for which you would happily purchase tickets? What about for certain times (10 p.m. at Holeman & Finch?) or holidays?
–by Jenny Turknett, Food & More blog