I got an email from the President of TableXchange to see what I thought.  TableXchange is a new website that allows patrons of restaurants to create a open market place where people can buy and sell their restaurant reservations. 

It is not scalping, per se because reservations are free.  In essence, if you happen to have a reservation at Babbo at 8pm on Tuesday night, and it ends up you can’t make it, instead of calling Babbo and releasing the reservation, you can sell it on the open market.  It appears that the average cost right now are around $20-30 for a reservation.  It could be called the Ebay of restaurant reservations. 

So, what do I think?  I am not so sure I like this idea.  Mario Batali will tell you that if they are going to make money off getting reservations at his restaurant, he should get the cash, not the seller since ultimately he is the seller.  What if people start making reservations under pseudonym names to make a little side profit.  All of a sudden, the normal Joe can’t make a reservation even a month in advance.   Should reservations for the top restaurants become a free market?  I am not so sure.

The success of restaurants have to do with a variety of things.  I don’t now if the success should be sold on an open market or the lack of.  Certainly creates a very different market place.  Also this creates a market for the have and have-nots.  A special dinner at one of the finest restaurants in NYC not only costs you a wad it also costs $30 for the reservation.  Hmmm. 

I wonder what Danny Meyer thinks.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Walter

    wow…interesting idea

    i guess its really just a matter of planning ahead. if you are willing to call babbo the month ahead of time you will probably still get a reservation. you want at the last minute (or with babbo even a few weeks in advance) you gotta pay these guys.

    restaurants probably wont be totally happy but i guess this just makes for a more efficient market.

  2. Wayne A.

    It seems plausible that concierges might find it helpful for their hotel guests. I am not convinced it will take off with locals or regulars such as in L.A., San Francisco or Miami. You would know best in NY. When frequenting our favorites in local metropolitan areas we establish a gratuitous relationship to the staff and chefs and maintain it with consistency, a lesson learned early on in the brokerage business. Due to these relationships we also have been able to accommodate visitors with the “impossible” reservations as well as any “secondary market exchange” might have and I am certain we are not unique. If there is a market for everything and everyone, maybe the servicing of a mass affluent and transient population via Concierges or Virtuoso travel coordinators might be key relationships and partnering for the model. Just a thought…

  3. Eric

    For those who say the service makes it tougher to get a reservation, I suggest they give Il Mulino a shot for dinner for two on a Friday night. Call a month, two months, or a year in advance, it makes little difference. I made a valient attempt once for my girlfriend’s birthday; 4 weeks in advance the best reservation they could offer me was at 10:30 on a Tuesday night. Bottom line is that this service makes a great reservation far more attainable than would otherwise be possible for the average restaurant-goer and at a very low price relative to the total dining experience.

  4. Doug Cress

    its definitely going to open up a whole new can of worms.