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May 5, 2010 04:17 AM

Grant Achatz "Next" restaurant -- Ticketing and Off-peak pricing

Interesting article in today's NY Times about Grant Achatz's restaurant to open in the fall. You buy a "ticket" in advance, can pay more or less depending on time, service is completely included. Personally I love the idea.

In Chicago, the Chef Grant Achatz Is Selling Tickets to His New Restaurant

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  1. Interesting idea, but it seems to me it will up the bookkeeping costs. UNLESS he has had a custom computer program written just for the scheduling/menu/time/billing process. Time will tell...

    7 Replies
    1. re: Caroline1

      I think the whole idea is that it will be a completely automated system, so when you make the reservation, you give your credit card number, and it bills you immediately. Just like an airplane seat. So no bookkeeping costs, just creating access to a database where the options can be listed and priced.

      1. re: DGresh

        Oh, gee... Why didn't I think of that! Now, would you mind explaining to me how that handles the order for food getting to the kitchen AFTER the diners have arrived, how the expediter (or whatever the chef/kitchen manager who sees that food goes out in a timely manner) will know that the diners are in the house? There's a whole hell of a lot more involved than simply paying by credit card in advance. Well, there is UNLESS people just pay for the m eal and stay home and watch TV. That'll work!

        1. re: Caroline1

          It's a preset menu...changes four times a year. Read the article. It answers many of your questions.

          1. re: sibeats

            Thank you so much. I DID read the article. Having a preset menu addresses NONE of my reservations (pun intended), neither from the kitchen's side, nor from the diner's side. When I go to dinner and I pay, I want the tip and the meal on the SAME ticket. So what's with this method? "Oh, I'm just SURE I'm going to have a magnificent waiter, so I'm going to tip him 25%!" And then he spills a plate of starters in my lap? What I am saying is that I have a LOT of questions the article doesn't even come close to answering. I predict it will create a buzz initially (well, hey, it's already doing that), but that the honeymoon will be fairly short, and if it hangs on there, I don't think it will be contageous and spread to other restaurants. Well, besides fast food and some buffets where tipping is not of concern.

            1. re: Caroline1

              You've kind of changed the subject from "bookkeeping/scheduling/menu" to "I don't like a fixed gratuity". Perfectly valid opinion, but a different issue, and one that has been debated more than enough on this board.

              1. re: Caroline1

                If it's not a good value (and I'm saying "value" not "bargain") then the market will respond accordingly. Some hotels have been doing this for a while, adding a daily gratuity so you're not tipping every maid, room service delivery, bellman, etc. The rule of thumb has been that the places with the balls to do this are also places with high standards. I suspect if there's an accidental spilling of soup in lap they will make every effort to satisfy you. Again, it's all in the follow-through. If they fail to do so, people will be posting here and elsewhere.

                1. re: ferret

                  As an added point, in certain categories of restaurant in some European countries, tipping is unnecessary because the employees are paid an acceptable wage - of course, this is passed on to the customer in food pricing so it effectively builds in the gratuity to the food price. Achatz could easily have done that (and is pretty much doing it on a de facto basis).

      2. As for his "new" concept, sounds like he's cribbing from Heston's Feasts.

        1. Personally I love the idea. I always hated people having the "option" not to pay the waiter. The meal experience should be considered as a whole instead of the sum of it's parts. Especially abolishing the awkwardness at the end of the meal where everyone discusses the tip and does math. I just want to pay the check and leave. This is even better because you don't even have to pay the check!