Today it was announced that Trois Mec, the highly anticipated new L.A. restaurant from Vinny Dotolo, Jon Shook and Ludo Lefebvre, is going to use the ticket system first popularized by Nick Kokonas at Alinea and Next in Chicago. The idea is this: instead of making a reservation for dinner, you buy a ticket to dinner. A ticket to Trois Mec costs $97.13 a person and entitles you to five courses and includes tax and tip but not drinks. That means, if you don’t drink anything, you can just show up, sit down, eat your food and leave. If you don’t show up, though, you’re out the 97 bucks.
The system makes clear sense from a restaurant’s point of view. As Eater points out, “[The ticket system] reflects strongly on the ongoing current discussion on how to deal with no-shows.” By selling tickets, a restaurant can more effectively budget an evening’s meal; ingredients won’t get wasted, servers won’t hover without tables to serve.
The question is: what does the customer gain from this system?
I’m thinking: peace of mind knowing how much of a dent you can expect in your wallet before you sit down to eat. Sometimes at a restaurant you order and order and then the bill comes and you nearly fall out of your chair with shock. Not with this system.
Then there’s the matter of having a set time printed on your ticket. That’s nice because, presumably, you’ll show up at 7:15 (or whatever time you’re scheduled to show) and get seated right away. That’s way better than the frustrating “show up and wait at the bar” system so many trendy restaurants employ when the tables aren’t turning quickly enough. Here, I hope, things will be more orderly.
But I leave the questions to you, readers. Would you buy a ticket to a fancy five-course dinner? Have you done it? How did you feel about it? Like it or not, this may very well be the future of restaurant reservations.