The dining experience at Per Se in New York and The French Laundry in Napa Valley is gearing up for a change. According to the New York Times, in early 2015 the two restaurants (both owned by Thomas Keller) will start charging diners ahead of time for the prix fixe tasting menus as a way to deter last minute reservation cancellations and no-shows. Honestly, we like this change. Not only does it make sense from a business standpoint, being able to pay ahead of time also happens to be really convenient for the diners.
Through the use of an upcoming booking system called Tock, which was created by restaurateur Nick Kokonas, guests will be able to reserve their table online and pay the full menu amount (which will include service charges)—the Per Se tasting menu is $310 and French Laundry's is $295. Of course, whatever else you order that is additional, like cocktails, will be tallied on a new bill given at the end of your meal.
Other restaurants are reportedly gearing up to use Tock as well, like Chef Daniel Patterson (owner of COI Restaurant in San Francisco), who is excited to use the system for his new establishment, Aster. With only four seats available, Aster will be dedicated to a tasting menu that will feature ingredients like spiny lobster and for a menu like that, a no-show is a big deal.
Tock will definitely dampen the style of people who like making multiple reservations, only to cancel all but one at the last minute once they've made a decision. But if eating at a place like Per Se is one of your options, you know the risk is worth it and you can certainly afford to pay the price for your cancellation.