Coming Soon: Alinea’s Ticketing System, Everywhere
The system that Grant Achatz-helmed restaurants Alinea and Next use for reservations could be coming soon to a restaurant near you. The ticketing system, developed by restaurant co-owner Nick Kokonas, is being tested in a handful of different restaurant settings ahead of the refined product’s release in early 2015.
The system works similarly to other ticketed events, like concerts. Each restaurant decides how many tables to sell on a given night. Patrons purchase tickets ahead of time — either for the full price of a prix fixe meal or for a portion of the total bill, similar to a deposit. Ticket prices can be dynamic, reflecting supply and demand of popular tables. (A table at 8pm on a Saturday, for example, might cost more than a 5pm table on Tuesday.) To be clear, this isn’t paying for a reservation, it’s paying ahead for your restaurant meal and experience. Restaurants will pay a monthly subscription fee to use the service, not unlike OpenTable’s payment model. (They won’t have to pay per seated diner, though.)
This makes sense. Yes, it’s fundamentally different from the way we’re used to enjoying restaurant meals, but for popular restaurants, especially popular restaurants with a pricey prix fixe menu, selling tickets ahead of time reduces friction inside the restaurant and allows patrons to focus on the meal, not the check at the end of the night. According to Kokonas, the system also reduces reservation no-shows, a potentially costly issue for restaurants.
I love this idea, and have always loved this idea. Excited to see the changes that this brings to the game.
Pinterest’s Location Maps are The Best Ever for Restaurants
Have you gotten lost in Pinterest’s new maps feature yet? If not, you should because these Pinterest location maps for food are so pretty. Place Pins showed up late last year and as publications and restaurants and food enthusiasts start to experiment, some awesome stuff is showing up. Current favorite: 7×7 magazine’s “100 Things to Eat in San Francisco.”
They’re so lovely, so well-designed, so customizable, so easy to navigate. (Pinterest doesn’t pay me, I swear.) I especially love them because these maps integrate the two most important visual aspects of restaurants: images of the food and an exact location of where to find it. So good looking. Writers and editors: more of these please!
…To @FerranAdria’s Following List
Former El Bulli chef and industry legend Ferran Adrià joined Twitter only a month ago, but has already taken to the service. (I can’t stop retweeting everything he posts; it’s so appropriate.) Recently, he tweeted about following the “#Bullinianos,” the restaurant talent that made the restaurant what it was. Check out the list. It’s solid.
Now Have We Peak Delivery Startup?
I argued against it, but perhaps we’re getting close to peak food delivery startup in San Francisco. A service called Prep Cook suspended its service after just three days and is now “rethink[ing] its business model.” Without any real insight into the company or facts about what happened, I can only speculate. But perhaps this is a signal that the space is saturated?
- The James Beard Awards are moving to Chicago — NYTimes
- Solid infographic: why restaurants are investing in mobile payments and marketing — Food+Tech Connect
- 10 ways tech is changing our food (once you get past the annoying pop-up.) — Tech Republic
- Apparently it’s catching on: NoWait app gets more funding — Eater