In a comment left yesterday on last week’s post about TableXchange, the online reservation scalping system that is totally aboveground and legit and not evil (so they claim), we get a missive from who we are assuming is Nick Kokonas, a partner at Alinea, nicely articulating the reasons that TableXchange is not exactly the happy & friendly element that, say, Rich Melman thinks it is. Nick says:
There are a host of problems with selling reservations for certain types of restaurants. For Alinea, the problems are 3 fold.
First, we are not able to ask the customer’s preferences if they buy the reservation. With only two menu choices (12 or 24+ courses), we spend some time during the reservation getting to know the diner’s preferences and finding out if there are any dietary or religious restrictions, food preferences, and letting them know which menu is right for them. If the buyer of a reservations shows up without giving that information, it is worse for our kitchen and for the customer.
Second, we reluctantly take a credit card number and explain our cancellation policy of 48 hours notice. We have instituted that because late cancellations at an 18 table restaurant have a huge negative impact on us… and there are plenty of people on the wait list who would like to dine that night. Since we don’t have walk-in business or a bar, we can’t rely on those for last minute diners. We don’t charge people unless we cannot fill the table, but a buyer of the reservation will not know this – in fact, the seller on TBXChange would be liable if the buyer no-shows.
Finally, we are a 2-story restaurant without an elevator and always ask if there are any mobility issues for any of the diners. That way we can ensure that we reserve a table in our first floor dining room. This is a serious ADA issue (rightfully), and a potential legal and liability issue for the restaurant.
For these reasons and others we have asked TableXchange to remove Alinea from its system. I hope they comply. If not, we will identify and call each of the reservations listed on their site and remove the seller from our books.
Nick has left this comment on at least one other blog, and we’re happy to see that Alinea is taking the matter seriously enough to take grassroots action. Vive la resistance!