Nick Kokonas, the restaurateur behind Chicago's Alinea/Next/et al, has landed a Google alumnus to help develop his as-yet-unnamed ticketing system, which he hopes to roll out nationwide. The Chicago Tribune reports Google engineer Brian Fitzpatrick will leave the internet giant to join the team and will work on "improving and expanding" the existing ticketing system. Kokonas's much-discussed, multimillion-dollar system charges diners for restaurant "tickets" much in the same way guests would pre-pay for a concert experience or sporting event. Although Kokonas had originally developed the system to benefit his own restaurants, he announced earlier this year it would become commercially available for any interested restaurant, and Fitzpatrick represents the first major hire for the project.
"We want to try to get a geographic diversity across a whole bunch of different markets in the country, so consumers can get used to the idea of booking like this," Kokonas told Eater in August 2014, when Phoenix, Arizona's casual restaurant Tuck Shop implemented the system. "We want a diversity of restaurant types, from the very formal places like you'd imagine — Alinea, Coi, and others that are coming — to smaller, chef-driven restaurants like Elizabeth or Trois Mec. And places that are a mixture, a la carte."
According to the Tribune, Fitzpatrick led Google's "transparency engineering team," is the co-founder of the technology "unconference" ORD Camp, and launched Google's Chicago offices in 2005. He starts tinkering with Kokonas' Tickets in early December.