Would you buy tickets in advance to eat at a popular restaurant without seeing the menu, or having any say in what to order, or being able to cancel your reservation? If you are a picky eater then this isn’t your thing, but if you’re the curious foodie type, you might be interested in checking out this $75 per head dining experience (not including beverages).
A lot has been written about the restaurant Trois Mec in Los Angeles and their unconventional method of selling tickets online for the privilege to eat at one of the coveted 26 seats. The ticketing system is a great idea for the restaurant as it gives them a heads-up on the amount of covers they can expect on any given night. Knowing the head count allows the front of the house managers to staff accordingly and the chef to purchase the exact amount of product needed, helping with food costs. The non-refundable ticketing system deals directly with the costly issue of the “no show” and will weed out those customers who have a history of abusing the reservation system.
To be fair, Trois Mec is very transparent about what to expect when buying tickets and the customer can choose to abide by their rules or eat somewhere else. Tickets are only sold online and go on sale every other Friday at 8 am sharp for a two week block of seats. In order to view the available dates and times you must first set-up a free account on their website. Once you find an open slot amongst the short list of available times, you will have 11 minutes to finish the transaction process.
My experience started when I planned a trip to Los Angeles for my birthday and I wanted to eat at Trois Mec. I had set up an account in advance with the necessary information, including credit card number, so I’d be ready to buy tickets when they became available. I had a list of dates and times written down prior to going online. I started checking the online reservations at 7:58 with no luck, then 7:59 with nothing, and then at 8:00 am on the dot the dates with available times were released. I started checking the first choices on my list and moving very quickly, I keep on searching and searching, until I found something that was available. The choices kept narrowing and the time was ticking as I pounding harder and faster on the keyboard, and then a time on my list became available…. 6:30 on a Wednesday night, not my top choice, but I was successful in reserving two seats.
I have my reservations about this system and I predict the novelty will wear off. I enjoyed my meal at Trois Mec but the ticketing experience felt very restricting and lacks any benefits for the paying customer. Here is the menu for my meal on Wednesday, July 31st, 2013 at exactly 6:30 PM: