What Won’t They Think Of Next?

The NYT reports on celebrity chef Grant Achatz’s new Chicago restaurant Next and the astounding secondary market in table reservations he has spawned.

The concept is fascinating: no a la carte menu, you pay a single price per seat that covers all food, beverage, service, gawking, etc. You pay in advance to reserve your table — if  you don’t show up, you lose your money.  Also, prices will change by day and by time in response to demand. These rules allow the restaurant to maximize resources, control the flow of food from the kitchen, and reduce prices in general because they know exactly how many seats are sold, and prepaid, each night.  No-shows cost restaurants a lot of money.  The internets make this kind of scheme much easier to implement, and I think more and more restaurants will go the route of flexible pricing and prepayment — but it will only work optimally for restaurants that are full every night to begin with.

Regardless, the ticket scalping is over the top. It’s not like Achatz is serving cupcakes from a truck, fercryinoutloud.* He is innovative and I bet Next will be an amazing dining experience, but people are reportedly buying Next reservations for nearly $1000 per seat (face value $45-$75, says the NYT).  Of course, these are the same people who think the Cubs might win the Series every year. I guess you have to respect their crazed optimism. I can think of better ways to spend $1000.

Perhaps needless to say, neither this concept nor Grant Achatz is likely to hit Wheaton anytime soon.

* (sarcasm)

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3 responses to “What Won’t They Think Of Next?

  1. “you pay a single price per seat that covers all food, beverage, service, gawking, etc. You pay in advance to reserve your table — if you don’t show up, you lose your money. Also, prices will change by day and by time in response to demand.”
    Doesn’t this sound like the airlines? That’s so not a good business model to follow! Next he’ll be charging extra if you bring any bags into the restaurant.

  2. It does sound like airlines and it’s amazing restaurants are only now moving toward the model. But it is unlike airlines in that there is so much more competition among restaurants that service and quality will have to be high in order to make the model work.

  3. It’s also unlike airlines in that the restrooms are bigger.

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