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Rail Paul

Buying Reservations

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can restaurants have a standing in a legal claim against this service for causing them to lose business?

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can restaurants have a standing in a legal claim against this service for causing them to lose business?

 

Perhaps, but the torts that deal with interference with a business or prospective contractual realtionship usually require a finding of intentional conduct.

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I don't see a problem with the use or provision of this reservations service:

 

1) If somebody has the time to go and get all of these reservations, why shouldn't they be rewarded for that?

 

2) How are reservations different from any other good or service which is legitimately bought and sold? There is a demand and supply. There are also buyers that are more (using this for actually scarce reservations) or less informed, and buyers that place different values on the price of using the site and on their own time.

 

3) There is also equality of access by all diners to pay this site for a given reservation. Now, one might argue that $35 doesn't mean the same thing (i.e., is more or less painful to pay) for some diners than others. But that's the same for a person who wants a watch or a bottle of shampoo or a new electronic gadget.

 

4) The site's prices seem reasonable to me, esp if one is informed about which restaurants are hard to get and which not. If an uninformed user were to use the reservation site, like everything in life, they would do so at their own peril, because it's caveat emptor all the way.

 

I agree that it makes good business sense. My problem is that I can think of very few restaurants where the cuisine is so excellent that I would be willing to pay this extra tariff in addition to the price of the meal itself, plus gratuity, in order to dine there.

Right now, I can think of maybe three restaurants in the United States for which I would use this service to secure a table.

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Another nail in the coffin of fine dining for me....who needs all of this non$en$e.I just wanna walk right in,set right down,and enjoy a good meal and the company that I'm with,not go to Church or a Broadway show for dinner.And will continue to patronize restaurants that allow me to do that.

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I think scalping tickets is distinguishable in some cases from restaurant reservations.

 

I'm not an expert on getting sports event tickets, but, as I understand it, for some football stadiums, there is limited ability to get tickets even if one were to plan in advance. That is because season ticket holders might keep their seats from year to year, so that the "supply" of "new", available tickets at any given point in time is limited (or non-existent?) not just for a given person, but for all people. Now, that is not the case with restaurant reservations. With some planning and persistence, one can get any reservation in the world one wants if one had the time and the foresight. There is always a point at which the restaurant's reservations books open. It might be hard to get the reservation, but there are reservations out there to be had.

 

I also see nothing wrong with a restaurant wanting to attract customers who are likely to spend more at their facility and therefore increase the restaurant's profits. There are ways that restaurants already do this -- e.g., advertising through certain media with certain target audiences; pairing with certain wine auctioneers to stage special dinners (e.g., Cru); not offering an a la carte menu that might offer clients the flexibility of lower spending (French Laundry); pairing with credit card companies (e.g., American Express Platinum reserved tables).

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I think scalping ticket is distinguishable in some cases from restaurant reservations.

 

I'm not an expert on getting sports event tickets, but, as I understand it, for some football stadiums, there is limited ability to get tickets even if one were to plan in advance. That is because season ticket holders might keep their seats from year to year, so that the "supply" of "new", available tickets at any given point in time is limited (or non-existent?) not just for a given person, but for all people. Now, that is not the case with restaurant reservations. With some planning and persistence, one can get any reservation in the world one wants if one had the time and the foresight. There is always a point at which the restaurant's reservations books open. It might be hard to get the reservation, but there are reservations out there to be had.

 

I also see nothing wrong with a restaurant wanting to attract customers who are likely to spend more at their facility and therefore increase profits.

 

There are a few restaurants that are really almost private clubs. Isn't Rao's like that?

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In London, there have been times when some serious food has been in private clubs -- e.g. Mosimann's, though I never liked his food. (not traditional gentlemen's clubs, which generally have mediocre food but sometimes excellent wine)

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I also see nothing wrong with a restaurant wanting to attract customers who are likely to spend more at their facility and therefore increase the restaurant's profits.

 

I am this type of customer in a restaurant, but this "service" does not attract me.

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I don't know. If, hypothetically, a reservationist told me that I could either have a 10pm table or, for $3, the 8pm table I'd requested, maybe I'd pay the $3. I'd think it was cheeky, but what the heck?

 

If so, I guess the remaining questions are how much I'd pay, and whether I think it's fair that some guy is scooping up reservations just in order to make himself the middle-man between me and the restaurant.

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So, then why are restaurants letting this service make the money that can be had because of this supply and demand inequality during prime times for dinner? The restaurant could be reaping the profit itself simply by offering different menus for different seating.

 

5 PM Menu: Apps are $12, Mains are $30, Desserts are $14, or Prix Fixe for $50 per person, $65 with wine.

 

8 PM Menu: Apps are $19, Mains are $40, Desserts are $20, or Prix Fixe for $80 per person, $105 with wine.

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in the end it's still best to be a regular - they will always squeeze you in. and if you are not stuck on prime time, that helps too in getting a resy you want (and food & service are often better in the 'off times')

The Shaw argument. The difficulty is that it's impossible become a regular at Per Se if one can never get a table.

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5 PM Menu: Apps are $12, Mains are $30, Desserts are $14, or Prix Fixe for $50 per person, $65 with wine.

 

8 PM Menu: Apps are $19, Mains are $40, Desserts are $20, or Prix Fixe for $80 per person, $105 with wine.

They do it for lunch, don't they? I agree that restaurants must be missing a trick when there are many people who want to give them money but can't find the opportunity to do so. Open more restaurants is a solution many chefs favor. There must be another way; the difficulty is that it has to be done without the customer feeling somehow bamboozled.

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I can imagine this in an only slightly different time and place being discussed as a serious ethical issue, rather than a technical question of how restaurants should start doing it themselves.

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