Tuesday, 06 March 2012
When I read the Huffington Post headline, Achatz Reveals Huge Change for Alinea, I immediately perked up. Was Alinea finally going to update their menu, which has been mostly unchanged for seven years? I understand why they haven't changed, they are still filling tables with it. However, my hopes were coming from a place of pure selfishness, I want to buy another Alinea cookbook.
Huffington Post disappointed me. The huge change undergoing Alinea is eliminating reservations and instead issuing e-tickets to dine at the restaurant. This concept is Achatz own innovation, which he already uses at his other restaurant, Next.
The e-tickets work similar to buying tickets for a show or game. You purchase your meal before even stepping into the restaurant, and if you don't show up you forfeit the cost of the meal. The benefit of e-tickets is that it will minimize no-shows. A reservation not showing up can greatly affect the profit margin of a restaurant. "What people don't realize is that profit margins at restaurants are extremely small -- between 5 and 15 percent, overall," Achatz said.
The hope is that this trend will grow and more restaurants will adopt the e-ticket concept. Already the San Fransisco restaurant Saison said they will begin selling e-tickets for their chefs tasting. Some argue that diners may take issue with the pay up front concept, however the e-ticket is meant primarily for expensive restaurants with tasting menus costing upwards of $400 - $600 per person. The cost of a no show at these price levels is much greater for the restaurant and the e-ticket can eliminate a lot of risk.
What do you think about the e-ticket?