Grant Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago is one of the most highest-rated restaurants in America, landing at number six on The Daily Meal's 101 Best Restaurants and number nine on the World's 50 Best Restaurants lists this year, and to keep up with demand, the restaurant developed a ticketing reservation system which “sells” tables to customers every night, according to Epicurious. Restaurateur Nick Kokonas, who developed the ticketing reservation system, has announced that he will be taking it public, which means that we may be seeing a lot more people buying tickets to high-end restaurants instead of struggling to make a reservation. The system can also be seen at Kokonas’ other venues, Next and The Aviary, as well as a few other select restaurants throughout Chicago.
So, how does it work? Diners pay for their meals entirely in advance using the ticketing reservation system (at Aviary, your $20 deposit counts as a ticket). Ticket prices for the dinner reservations, much like sporting events or concert tickets, fluctuate based on desirability. A 7 p.m. Saturday reservation will cost much more than a Tuesday 5 p.m. reservation.
"People are willing to buy a seat for a sports game, with pricing anywhere from $10,000 to sit on the court to $35 for the nosebleeds," Kokonas told Epicurious. "No one gets to the game and goes, 'man, that's totally unfair--that guy way up there got in for $35 and I had to pay $10,000."
Kokonas said that in the coming year he will be testing his concept out at an unnamed restaurant group, as well as a few standalone eateries in San Francisco and Europe.
Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @JoannaFantozzi