Speed Reads

No stub, no grub

The newest fancy restaurant trend: tickets instead of reservations

The next time you try to snag a table for two at your town's chic-est restaurant, be prepared for a new reply from the maître d': "Tickets, please."

NPR reports a growing number of fine dining establishments are eschewing traditional reservations for ticketing systems, employing all-inclusive prix-fixe meal passes to "sell out" dining rooms weeks or months in advance. The concept was originally devised by Chicago restauranteur Nick Kokonas, whose eatery Next specializes in theme menus that change three times a year; diners can buy season tickets to the entire year's worth of meals. In a few hours last December, Next sold $3 million worth of tickets.

Restaurants believe ticketing sharply reduces no-shows, which cost business and pressure establishments to raise prices for other diners. Then, of course, there's the cachet of being the "hottest ticket in town," a la rock concerts or hit Broadway shows. Kokonas anticipates ticketed eateries opening in several major cities, both in the U.S. and around the world, in the next couple of months. The ticket scalpers are sure to follow in short order.

Listen to the full NPR story on restaurant tickets below. --Mike Barry