Restaurateur Nick Kokonas' restaurant ticketing system Tock has officially crossed the pond. According to Bloomberg, London restaurant The Clove Club is adopting the system, making it the first restaurant in the UK to switch to a ticketing system. Chef Isaac McHale tells the paper that customers "regularly fail to show up or else arrive in fewer numbers than specified on the reservation," echoing complaints of many other chefs who have switched to tickets.
Diners will be asked to pay for their food in advance, and drinks can be purchased while they dine.
The Clove Club will switch over to Tock starting in April. Currently, the Michelin-starred restaurant offers two tasting menus, priced at £65 ($96 USD) and £95 ($140 USD) each. Diners will be asked to pay for their food in advance, and drinks can be purchased while they dine. McHale believes the switch is "going to ruffle a few feathers," but the move makes fiscal sense for the restaurant: "Everyone has a problem with no shows and short-seated tables. The more ambitious your restaurant, the more money you spend on ingredients and staff." McHale believes Tock will help him keep prices down.
One of the signatures of Tock is the "dynamic deposit tickets," which allows restaurants to adjust the prices "based on the desirability of the reservation." This means that if McHale can keep prices down, he has the ability to offer the tasting menus at a lower price during off-peak hours. There is no word yet on whether or not The Clove Club will do this, however. The restaurant will still offer tables for walk-in customers during lunch service.
Tock — which Kokonas introduced last year — has quickly been adopted by many high-end restaurants including San Francisco's Coi, Austin's Qui, and New York City's Per Se. Not only is the system popular amongst those that offer tasting menus, but it is being implemented by casual restaurants as well. Last August, Phoenix restaurant Tuck Shop switched to Kokonas' ticket system, even though it offers an a la carte menu. While at fancier restaurants customers must pay for the entire meal plus tax and service upfront, at casual restaurants the tickets are similar to deposits on a reservation. The amount a diner pays is applied towards their final bill.