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At Trois Mec, diners must buy tickets upfront

I enjoyed the readers' comments at the bottom:

http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...

(In particular, Rochelois':

Rochelois at 10:31 AM April 14, 2013
Oh, this is such an improvement to LA fine dining. If you aren't a Hollywood A lister you get a reservation at 5:30 or 9:30 next to the bathroom only to be ignored by the wait staff because some fat hairy record producer in jeans, flip flops and dark glasses just walked in and the entire staff is falling all over themselves to be noticed by him. I'll spend a quarter the money on the finest ingredients at B0b's Market and make it myself and have a better experience. )

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  1. not a bad idea imo. hundred bucks all in PP isn't that bad either.

    1. the description of the "record producer" is funny:
      so is the idea that she could create an equivalent meal at home using ingredients from Bob's market.

      1. I am not a businesswoman but the ticket requirement is smart business. More popular food venues should start doing this.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Lillipop

          Aren't those called banquets or weddings? Or worse yet, fundraisers ...

            1. re: ipsedixit

              In any event, Master, it's very interesting to compare the reaction of the LAT readers versus the opinions in this thread.

              1. re: RicRios

                There is probably a huge chunk of LA Times readers (not to be condescending or anything of the sort) that have not ever been to either a fine dining restaurant or a non-chain restaurant.

                1. re: kevin

                  To tell you the truth, my (personal) problem is:
                  a) I have a friend who, when asked if he is young and beautiful or rich and famous, he answers: "Hey, three out of four, not bad!" In my case, I am not in either category.
                  b) I'm not a movie producer.
                  c) I don't even wear flip flops.
                  Therefore, my chances of getting an entry visa to a such hi falutin'place are nil. Oh, sorry, also:
                  d) I read the LAT

              2. re: ipsedixit

                Banquets, weddings, and fundraisers for some reason usually seem to have utterly terrible food even at beyond intense prices.

            2. The name of this restaurant should be Don't Bother. Talk about attitude. Suppose I make a rez a week ahead then come down with the flu the day before. Do I get my money back? For me, a dining experience should be a stress-free zone. I like to be treated as a guest, not a john. That's my 3 cents (adjusted for inflation)

              31 Replies
              1. re: Baron

                You're not getting a reservation for dinner, you're buying a ticket to an event that gives you food

                shift of mindset, and no different than buying tix to a show of some sort.

                1. re: ns1

                  Interesting argument. But at a show or sporting event, I'm just an observer. At a restaurant, I expect some personal attention. I know nothing about this restaurant, so I have an open mind. I see from weinermobile, that its an extremely small place. For personal reasons, I do not plan weeks ahead since I don't always know what I'll feel like eating. I'm waiting to read some reviews of this restaurant. Who is it who once said " you buy your ticket and you take your chances?"

                  1. re: Baron

                    For personal reasons, I do not plan weeks ahead since I don't always know what I'll feel like eating
                    ==============================
                    There are certain restaurants in the US and around the world that if you don't plan 30-60 days in advance, you *know* you won't be eating there.

                    I don't know if this will be one of those places or if it'll be any good at all. Time will tell.

                2. re: Baron

                  Hmmmmm, if you bought Dodger tickets or tickets to the theater a week in advance and came down with the flu the day before, would you expect your money back?

                  1. re: Novelli

                    Dodger stadium or the theatre can't resell your seat if you don't show up at the last minute. A popular restaurant can easily fill a table for someone who doesn't show up to a reservation by way of walk ins. I will not be supporting restuarants which follow this trend. It is obnoxious beyond belief.

                    1. re: jgilbert1000

                      why would they resell your seat? they already got your money.

                      1. re: ns1

                        why would they resell your seat? they already got your money.
                        ____________________________

                        Oh, me, me, me. Let me answer.

                        Ok, uh, um, to make more money?

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Which does not work as soon as the seat owner gets there.

                          You guys don't go to concerts/shows/stuff and don't get how this works or what? I buy a ticket to a seat at a show, that seat is mine whether I sit there for 5 hours, 1 hour, or 1 minute because I paid that money up front. It makes NO DIFFERENCE TO THE VENUE if I go or not.

                          The same is not true for table reservations.

                          1. re: ns1

                            Relax. I got no dog in this fight.

                            Yes, I know that in concerts and sporting events, seats are not resold by the event promoter (only through secondary markets like Stubhub or Craigslist).

                            With restaurants, even if they sell you a table in advance, there *can* be conditions on that ticket where the restaurant says "tables only held for 30 minutes" etc. So, in that situation it can be resold.

                            That's all I (and I think some people) are getting at.

                            1. re: ns1

                              It makes NO DIFFERENCE TO THE VENUE if I go or not.

                              The same is not true for table reservations.
                              ===============================
                              Assuming you cancelled enough in advance for the restaurant to rebook that table. Otherwise, you see how it's a loss of potential revenue right?

                              The concert venue already has your money so you're right, it doesn't matter. The restaurant on the other hand, doesn't already have your money.

                              That's why some places have come up with this ticket system. So it doesn't matter if you go for an hour or 5 or show up or not.

                              1. re: Porthos

                                I wonder if this would cause such a furor if it was characterized as a deposit on the cost of your meal? The concept of securing your reservation with a deposit is hardly a new one.

                                I also wonder if they could build in a structure similar to what you see at some vacation rentals -- if you cancel more than x days before the rental AND they can rebook, you get your money back.

                                1. re: Savour

                                  if you cancel more than x days before the rental AND they can rebook, you get your money back.
                                  ============================
                                  This would be a very fair policy in my mind.

                                  However, I don't know how much incentive there is for the establishment to find a replacement diner if they already have your payment upfront. The diner has more incentive and more motivation to find a replacement. I think if the layout is set up properly on their website, it should be easy to list tickets for sale/resale on a calendar layout so people interested in buying seating for a specific date have a clear and easy view of what's available.

                                  The real problem is when people start buying up tickets for prime time seatings on Friday and Saturday hoping to sell the tickets at a markup and profit.

                                  1. re: Porthos

                                    "However, I don't know how much incentive there is for the establishment to find a replacement diner if they already have your payment upfront."

                                    I think customer goodwill and potential future bookings will help incentivize the restaurant.

                                    "The real problem is when people start buying up tickets for prime time seatings on Friday and Saturday hoping to sell the tickets at a markup and profit."

                                    If you read the linked story the restaurants already doing this are considering variable pricing with prime day and hour bookings selling for more than off peak hours.

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      I did read the link. That comment was by David Chang and he is "intrigued" by it but hasn't instituted it...yet. That doesn't account for whatever additional profit the scalper may try to make on top of the premium seating price.

                                      "Though he says he hopes that tickets are the future of dining, he hasn't instituted them at his restaurants such as 12-seat Momofuku Ko (a notoriously difficult online-only reservation). But he is especially intrigued by dynamic pricing, which means paying a premium for seats that are more in demand — a table for Saturday night at 8, for example, would cost more than a table for Wednesday at 5:30 p.m."

                                2. re: Porthos

                                  I'm on the restaurant's side here, so I think we're on the same page.

                                  1. re: ns1

                                    Isn't the bottom line that the restaurant can do what it wants, and diners can reciprocate and do what they want.

                                    Eventually the marketplace will determine whether this is a good idea or not.

                                    For places like Alinea and Next, it seems to be working quite well. Will that trickle down to the more hoi polloi type restaurants that the rest of the 99% of us commoners frequent is yet to be determined.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      whilst i agree with ipse on this ("the restaurant can do what it wants...the marketplace will determine whether this is a good idea or not") it's important to remember (not that i'm accusing ipsedixit of doing otherwise) people are equally as free to comment on the practice.

                                      as for my opinion, like someone above, i also, years ago, told charlie trotter to go chase a cat when they asked for a deposit.
                                      on the other hand, years later, i didn't say the same thing to mr. urusawa.

                                      i dunno...ludo seems like a nice guy. his wife, not so much. but that's just from observing them on the t.v.

                                      1. re: linus

                                        What's wrong with his wife ? I may be a little late to the game on this.

                            2. re: ns1

                              Well, if they re-sell your seat, then in that matter they can double end the deal: they already have your money for the original ticketed reservation and they get the money on the re-sell. You lose, Trois Becky wins.

                                1. re: ns1

                                  my bad, i didn't read the continue posts under your original comment.

                                2. re: kevin

                                  They aren't going to resell your seat, (unless you tell them about not coming in advance - with the promise of a refund if they are able to get another diner in that seat).

                                  Otherwise why in the hell would you even let them know you aren't coming, (since you would be losing your already purchased ticket in any case) if they didn't offer the promise of refunds if they did rebook your seat with someone on their waiting list?

                                  You, on the other hand, would/could sell off your seat to some other diner who had been trying to get a reservation without success. That's what Craig's List is for after all.

                                  1. re: Servorg

                                    Well, after reading the article and this thread, there will definitely be space for others there since I do believe I will stay away from the joint. Just to darn confusing and stressful, and I I don't agreee that it's the same as buying tickets to a musical, play, concert, or sporting events.

                                    1. re: kevin

                                      Why not the same? You don't know if you'll enjoy the play. You might, but then again you are taking a chance on an unknown. Your team may play like stinkers the day you go. That's just the risk you take to have an experience, be it dinner, a play or a sporting event. We just aren't used to this type of practice when it comes to dining out, but this may just the tip of iceberg unless higher end places figure out a better way to stay in business and have the commitment we make with our reservation actually see us live up to our end of the deal.

                                        1. re: Servorg

                                          What servorg said,
                                          << unless higher end places figure out a better way to stay in business and have the commitment we make with our reservation actually see us live up to our end of the deal.>>

                                          AND
                                          not just higher end places, all places that take reservations and that order foodstuffs and staff their restaurants according to their reservation list.

                                          1. re: Servorg

                                            Not the same. When you are going to a play, it is a singular experience (e.g. if I want to see Book of Mormon, there's no other option but that show; I can't substitute something similar for it). There are many restaurants. I suppose you could argue that none will be like Trois Mecs; however, there are numerous great meals to be had without going through all this, while there are no such choices for theater (or arguably for sporting events).
                                            And as stated previously, taking a credit card and charging a penalty for no-shows or cancelling just prior to reservation time serves to protect the business and does not create undue stress for the diner.

                                            1. re: archer

                                              "Trois Mecs; however, there are numerous great meals to be had without going through all this, while there are no such choices for theater (or arguably for sporting events)."

                                              Sure there is only 1 "Book of Mormon", but there's only 1 Trois Mecs too amirite?

                                              Going back to your analogy, have you ever tried getting tickets to a Lakers game? Now THAT is a freaking headache, and there's plenty of sporting options around LA without that type of headache.

                                              1. re: archer

                                                You make a good point.

                                                Those that pay for tickets to dine must feel there is no other *acceptable* substitute and thus worth the risk of paying up front.

                                                Those that don't pay for the dining tickets will simply go to a restaurant that doesn't require tickets.

                                                The diner and market will decide. There are very few restaurants that can pull this off. Alinea and Next are two very select examples. There must be a reason why the very savy David Chang hasn't already done this with his insanely popular Momofuku Ko.

                                                1. re: archer

                                                  <<does not create undue stress for the diner.>>

                                                  if the restaurant can still book and fill virtually every seat, that would be the ONLY evidence that would be important in determining whether or not "undue stress" was caused for the diners.

                                  2. re: Baron

                                    I have a very small appetite so Mme Zoe and I often split a meal and order an extra salad or soup. I would be bringing home a $90 doggy bag - that's my 4 cents (ate out twice over
                                    the weekend and just everything is up.)

                                  3. how one feels about the ticket buying is probably going to be moot, because i suspect it will be impossible to get a fucking ticket for a long time anyway.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: linus

                                      You are most likely correct. This being another fucking ludo bites type enterprise along with the animal guys rolled into the gold on this restaurant concept.

                                    2. They will only have 4 tables and 8 seats at the bar (24 per seating) with only two seating a night. And i believe tax & tip is included but not alcohol. This works for me.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: wienermobile

                                        My mistake: 26 seats per diner service.

                                        1. re: wienermobile

                                          Yes, 26 seats per the Times blurb.

                                          I don't like it myself personally: buying tickets for a dinner.

                                      2. I strongly disagree with this policy. To those who compare it to a theater event, if you're a theater subscriber you may in fact exchange your seats. If not, you have the option of re-selling them @ the theatre (or elsewhere) to someone looking for returns (and there always are people waiting @ big shows for returns).
                                        Trois Mecs has no exchange policy. Moreover, they include tip, prior to receiving and evaluating the service. (And this is not Europe where service compris is standard). And who can count on not getting sick or having some other unexpected crisis that necessitates cancelling dinner? I for one can't afford to lose $200 (couple's price) and get nothing back.
                                        I understand their situation and would be comfortable with an exchange policy (w/ a cancellation several hours in advance) or preferably a system in which they simply took credit cards to hold the reservation and had the option of charging if you didn't cancel by a certain time (early afternoon for example, which is more than enough time to fill tables at a popular restaurant). This policy is punitive simply for cancellations. The issue should be "no-shows" not cancellation. I love Ludo's food, but I will not be going while this policy is in effect.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: archer

                                          To those who compare it to a theater event, if you're a theater subscriber you may in fact exchange your seats. If not, you have the option of re-selling them @ the theatre (or elsewhere) to someone looking for returns (and there always are people waiting @ big shows for returns).
                                          ==============================
                                          "There are no refunds or exchanges, but diners can sell their tickets and then transfer them on the Trois Mec site."

                                        2. I like the idea...having said that, I don't think I would ever purchase a ticket more than day of eating. Dining is spur of the moment for me, or relatively so...one reason I don't eat at temples of cuisine that require 30 day plus reservations.

                                          Plus, I wasn't that crazy about Animal the one time I ate their - certainly not enough to jump through any hoops.

                                          1. Right or wrong, I blew off Charlie Trotters because of the $100 "deposit", no way I'm pre-paying for a meal . . . I mean unless it's Weinerschnitzel. When pre-paid, a venue has NO mandate to deliver quality goods or service. Good news, that means there's gonna be one more table open for y'all. Look for me at Animal.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Steve2 in LA

                                              Steve,
                                              I don't like the idea either, but you're wrong about the mandate to deliver quality point. Even if they get your money ahead of time, if the place isn't good, the word will get out and they'll go out of business quickly, just like any other restaurant. Second, even without prepaying, if the food isn't good, most people would pay and just leave unhappy.

                                              I seriously don't think they're doing the ticket thing to be able to lower quality and get away with it. If anything it'll help quality because it'll cut down on no-shows, which are a cost to the restaurant.

                                              1. re: Robert Thornton

                                                Robert,
                                                I think you're probably right about the "quality" issue but still, the idea rankles me. Seem that the restaurant is presuming bad behavior and creating a level of distrust that leaves ME serving THEM rather than the traditional relationship of client and service provider.

                                                It'll be interesting to see how long this method lasts and whether they'll be obliged to go back to the traditional "pay as you go, thanks for coming" method. Either way, Ludo has never floated my boat and I'll STILL be holding down that table at Animal.

                                                1. re: Steve2 in LA

                                                  Agree completely with you. I never "no-show" for a reservation, and find it somewhat insulting that the restaurant is presuming bad behavior on my part. I have no problem them requiring a credit card guarantee, and then charging me something if I don't show, or refusing to reserve a table for someone who was a no-show in the past. Also, the idea of absolutely no choice when I dine out, for me takes away one of the main reasons I dine out...so I can pick what I find most interesting among the available choices. I guess, I'll not be crossing the threshold of Trois Mec.

                                            2. correct me if i am wrong, but this is a prixe-fixe meal ???

                                              or are there any options ???

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: kevin

                                                It's prix-fixe - I believe $80 pp, not inclusive of beverages. With tax and tip, it comes out to about $100 - the "ticket price". It seems like just the food price would be a fairer deposit. Or at least without tip.

                                                I'm interested in the variations on the concept. What about a discounted pricing (or $100 pp) if you pay in advance, but a premium if you pay at the door (similar to hotel pricing).

                                              2. So much hype already!

                                                No publicity is bad publicity, I guess.

                                                Brilliant PR move, if nothing else.

                                                9 Replies
                                                  1. re: J.L.

                                                    Ludo and Krissy have always been brilliant with the PR and promotion. I suspected Ludo of being so successful partly by generating demand and severely limiting supply. And they are doing it once again.

                                                    It will be interesting to see how they do with a long term and permanent venue once the initial hype dies down.

                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                      Partnering with MasterCard is another coup as well.

                                                      1. re: J.L.

                                                        Thanks! Edited to correct that.

                                                      2. re: Porthos

                                                        and, if they do well,
                                                        it will be interesting to see if some folks buy the reservation slots with the intention of scalping them to others for a higher price.
                                                        depending upon the markup, they may not even have to sell all the slots for which they paid.
                                                        just like with certain concerts, people would go to scalpers when they hope to get last minute reservations.... .

                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                          how are you defining "successful" here?

                                                          1. re: linus

                                                            In that context "successful" was defined by the fact the Ludo pop ups crashed opentable and were always booked out literally within a couple of minutes. At least after V 4.0.

                                                            He'd do this 1-2 times a year for a few days. Thus generating demand and severely limiting supply. Let's see how he does day in and day out.

                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                              thanks, thats what i figured.
                                                              less so in the traditional restaurant sense, perhaps. but like you said, lets see how this goes.

                                                      3. I wouldn't want every restaurant to use this system but I think it's a great alternative. I *hate* when I'm dining and have to witness some nincompoop throw a fit because his/her table was given away after he/she shows up 40 minutes late without calling to let the establishment know.

                                                        1. After reading the article, I support their decision. I'm sure it's incredibly frustrating and financially damaging, esp. in a very small restaurant, to experience no-shows. And it sounds like no-shows are becoming more prevalent, so this is a good solution to that.

                                                            1. I don't mind the concept of paying a deposit for a reservation. The part I don't like is having to eat exactly what they want to serve me that night and spend exactly how much they want me to spend. If the $100 was actually a deposit and you were allowed to order off the menu and then settle up at the end of the night, I would be okay with that.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                                1. re: Wolfgang

                                                                  do they HAVE a menu from which you may select items?
                                                                  if not, they will also be making their inventory/ordering function easier to manage.

                                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                                    No corkage allowed. Yes, it's their right. For some of us wine collectors, that's a big downer. I heard the $50 pairings were pedestrian and small poured, and the list is limited and expensive.
                                                                    Also that the early menu was very heavy on veggies and light on proteins.

                                                                    Of course the ticket with prix fixe design reduces their food cost and even the labor cost. The food might still be excellent and worth the amount charged, but it's harder to inventory and produce meals ordered off a menu.

                                                                2. Just looking at this as a business venture, I can see its appeal from Trois Mec. The marketing aspect alone has already paid off. It's relatively innovative and its perceived controversy stirs up even more publicity.

                                                                  Predictability is an intangible yet priceless commodity for most businesses. Knowing the amount of business that will be coming in during any given period allows for accurate planning and procurement of labor and materials.

                                                                  Getting the funds up front mitigates the often trying task of securing working capital.

                                                                  Small businesses rarely get these types of opportunities. But with this type of business model, Trois Mec has a few less pressures on them. As to their set menu and pairings, that's up to them whether it works or not. Sensitivity to customer feedback is essential in most businesses - they are no different in this realm.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                    having such a small storefront really works to their advantage.

                                                                    better to have fewer customers that are willing to pay more.

                                                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                      I maintain that Ludo & Krissy are freaking geniuses in promoting their business.

                                                                      The proverbial soup must be stirred every now & then...

                                                                      1. re: J.L.

                                                                        Agreed. I think it was you that I recall mentioning that in the past. I think this concept is genius from many angles.

                                                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                          " I think this concept is genius from many angles."

                                                                          And probably equally moronic from others. Although, before it dies a horrible death they can attempt to resuscitate it by altering their paradigm shift if the moronic overpowers the genius...