The Ticket System

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.

7 thoughts on “The Ticket System”

  1. I’ve done it several times and will continue to do so. I find it fun to pre-plan like that and relaxing to know that, like a tasting menu, all I have to do is show up and enjoy the food and the people I am with.

  2. Love it. Never realized how many inconsiderate people make multiple reservations and bail on most of them. Especially for people for whom this would actually be a special meal (instead of something to say they’ve done), sounds like a great system.

  3. I’ve done it 7 times now at Next and love it. Really takes away some of the negatives of group dining too (check splitting, using numerous cards, tipping fairly).

  4. I haven’t done it yet but, after reading much about people making reservations and not showing, I think this is fair. . It’s really no different from buying theatre tickets. It means you’re serious. I also agree that it would make it easier with large groups.

  5. Do you get an actual ticket that you could conceivably transfer to someone else if you can’t make it? If so, how long until some enterprising jerk decides to start buying tickets and scalping them?

  6. Cherie Ambrosino

    I think I would do it – I kind of respect the idea of trying to play by the rules – but only if they actually abide by the rules – what happens if I have a 7:15 ticket and they’re not ready with my table? Then I’d be seriously miffed – and possibly expect the option of a refund since THEY would be the ones breaking ‘the rules’

  7. We’ve done the ticket thing twice at Next and once at Alinea and love it. I wish more places did it that way out here in the Bay Area! It’s really no different than theater tickets.

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