Are Dinner Tickets the Future of Dining?

Brett Martin reviews the various paid reservation and ticketing services that are flooding the market (in a totally unsurprising redux of 2006). He offers a few choice anecdotes that are revealing about the state of the restaurant industry (in short: It’s a great time to be a foodie):

I recently received an e-mail from the remote Swedish restaurant Fäviken Magasinet, happily announcing that it would now be closed twenty weeks out of the year, the better that its chefs could immerse themselves in meditations on such themes as “The colour blue in nature,” “Lupin beans and the use of their proteins,” “Monastery life in Finland,” and “Traditional and modern methods for extended storage of eggs.” This is strange and kind of wonderful, but it’s not terribly…hospitable.

But the meat of the story:

Always, though, it comes down to that one indefensible diner behavior: the no-show. And the industry’s anger is real. “You don’t no-show to your accountant. You don’t no-show to your doctor. It’s only in this weird industry where there’s a total lack of ethics and accountability,” says Rosoff. “The problem of no-shows is no joke.”

But neither is it new. Nor does it appear, in the 200-some-odd-year history of the modern restaurant, to have ended the industry. “Overbooking and a bar to wait in!” said one chef-restaurateur, a ticket doubter, when I asked how he dealt with no-shows. “It’s worked for years. It’s ineffcient and it takes some intuition, but that’s part of the equation.”

Are Dinner Tickets the Future of Dining?

Really well done take on tickets & paid reservations from GQ. Brett Martin does push back on the notion that no-shows justify this kind of service. For some restaurants, I think overbooking makes total sense — but it requires scale. If you’ve got 20 seats, it is very dangerous to overbook: What happens if everyone shows up? Even if this happens only a couple of times every year, that’s a lot of very unhappy diners.

 

Miles

I’m a senior product manager for OpenTable’s consumer products. I focus on major features, including our loyalty program, diner profiles, social integrations, and new business exploration.