Buying tickets in lieu of a dinner reservation, a strategy that was pioneered by Nick Kokonas for his top Chicago restaurants Alinea and Next, has become an intriguing alternative for restaurateurs plagued by the costly issue of no-shows. But no brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Bay Area has taken the leap, until now. Beginning today, Daniel Patterson is implementing Kokonas' ticketing system at his two-Michelin-starred, World's 50 Best flagship restaurant, Coi. From September 1 onward, diners will only be able to reserve at Coi with a ticket. "We believe that the variable pricing, transparency and ease of purchasing tickets online will have multiple benefits for guests," said the restaurant in a statement.
The most interesting part of Coi's ticket shift is that it could end up saving flexible diners quite a bit of money. While a prix-fixe dinner at Coi is currently $195, before tax, tip, and beverages, the new system will allow diners to potentially book for as little as $145, a 25% savings, depending on the day and time of their reservation. The lowest prices are primarily for early and late seatings (like 5:30 or 9:30 pm), weekday seatings, and parties of 4.
The system also benefits Coi, allowing the restaurant to avoid tangles with expensive no-shows. Additionally, Kokonas told Eater National earlier this year that his system will be significantly less expensive for restaurateurs than Coi's previous reservation service, OpenTable. While OpenTable charges for equipment fees, monthly service fees, and a cut of each reservation, Kokonas is charging businesses a flat fee of only a few hundred dollars a month. As far as we know, Coi is the first full-service restaurant in SF to adopt a ticketing system; Kokonas' system is also in use at L.A.'s Trois Mec and Chicago's Elizabeth, with plans to expand into a few other restaurant groups in the U.S. and Europe over the course of the year.
For dinner between now and August 31, Coi will continue to accept reservations by phone; the full switch will come on September 1, with tickets offered 6-8 weeks in advance. An 18% service charge and tax are added to the price of the ticket when purchased online. Tickets are available in blocks of 2 and 4; parties of 5-8 are referred Coi's private dining room, which offers only one seating per night. Those who can't make their dinner and want to sell their tickets are encouraged to do so (at face value or less, of course), and there's a service on the website for transferring the name on the reservation.
· Coi Reservations [Official website]
· Alinea's Ticketing System Will Soon Be Commercially Available [~ EN ~]
· Take a Tour of Coi's Renovated Dining Room [~ ESF ~]