Tickets to celebrity chef Grant Achatz' newly opened restaurant Next in Chicago are being scalped on a popular classified website for up to $3,000. But business partner Nick Kokonas is warning scalpers that they won't be honoring tickets that haven't been authenticated.
Almost as soon as Achatz opened his second restaurant Next on April 6, scalpers took to Craigslist selling tickets to one of the most sought-after gastronomic dining exeriences in the US. Like a rock concert or theater show, the restaurant has opted to sell tickets to their dinners instead of taking reservations.
While an average dinner without wine and tip is about $85 per person, one seller has jacked up the price to $3,000 for six people at the chef's table - a meal described as a 16-course event with three non-alcoholic and three alcoholic wine pairings in a private room overlooking the Next kitchen.
That works out to $500 per person.
Business partner Kokonas, meanwhile, told AV Club Chicago, an offshoot of satirical online newspaper The Onion, that the restaurant will only honor tickets with an authentication number.
"We are trying hard to ensure that the tickets are real, which is all we can do. When we can send holograms by email, let me know," he wrote.
The restaurant has been described as an innovative and ambitious project for building menus around singular moments in culinary history like Paris 1906, their opening menu in homage to French chef Auguste Escoffier. Menus also change quarterly and visit other eras and locations every three months. The next theme is Thai street food.
The restaurant received requests from 20,000 people hoping to get a seat for their opening menu. Sales are capped at two tables for every user. Their website notes that the restaurant expects to have an automated system in place that will soon be able to authenticate the transfer of tickets. In the meantime, buyers wishing to transfer tickets are asked to email the restaurant for a new confirmation number.
In an interview with Zagat.com, Kokonas said he believes that ticket-based reservations will change the restaurant landscape. Like a sporting event, tickets are non-refundable avoiding losses in no-show bookings.
Other restaurateurs are also keeping a watchful eye on Next's innovative ticketing system. Chef David Chang, who employs an online reservation system for his restaurant Momofuku, told The New York Times it could set a trend in the restaurant industry.
To register for tickets, go to https://www.nextrestaurant.com/user/login.