Boom: Alinea, Next, and the Aviary co-owner Nick Kokonas dropped his manifesto on restaurant ticketing today. 6,000 words, a clip from Sex and the City, and a reported $60 million in ticket sales later, and he's made a pretty hefty case for ticketing, which he will soon offer commercially. The system is already available at Trois Mec in LA and Elizabeth in Chicago, and soon will launch in "several amazing restaurants" in the US, Europe and Asia.
The analysis is, in part, a response to the recent boom in apps that aim to solve problems in the reservation game. Many of the apps, including Eater co-founder Ben Leventhal's offering Resy, allow diners to pay for access to reservations. It's a solution Kokonas finds "schmarmy."
Regardless of how one feels about any of the reservation apps, Kokonas' numbers don't lie. Prior to launching a ticketing system, Alinea paid three full time staffers to man reservations lines. Apparently "One time so many people called that the entire 312-867 exchange went down. AT&T asked us if we were running a Groupon. Ha!"
They've had a similar draw to their ticketing system, although websites obviously deal with that much more quickly. Consider:
I showed Grant [Achatz] how to click on a table on the calendar page to 'turn on' a ticket for a table. He did and it turned from YELLOW to GREEN. I then refreshed the page and it was RED. "What happened," he asked? "It sold." He did it again, this time 2 months out on a Wednesday night at 9:30 PM. Same result, instant sale. "There are 8,432 people on the system hitting the refresh button right now chef. As soon as you unlock one, it sells. Here, look." I opened another window with our credit card processing transactions listed. $ 57,293 in sales in the first hour of the system. $ 358,483 in the first 24-hours. Two days later $563,874 of revenue was in our bank.
Don't believe him that they sell that fast? Kokonas posted a video of the ticketing system during the last days of Next's first menu, Paris 1906:
Video: Next's Ticketing System
Additional data Kokonas shares in his analysis: By the time Next launched their ticketing system, 18,946 people had signed up to be notified. Both Next and Alinea clock no-shows at a rate of less than 2% per year. (And those tables are already paid for.) And revenue at the Aviary, their a la carte menu bar where the ticket is deposit against your tab, has gone up 22%.
Head over for the full analysis, and stay tuned to find out which restaurants are launching with the Kokonas ticketing system.