We have something to confess:
We're not crazy about how ticketing works for Grant Achatz's new restaurant, NEXT.
For those of you who don't know: NEXT doesn't take traditional reservations. You have to create an account on the restaurant's website to purchase tickets in advance. The price of the ticket includes the meal and a service charge (basically the tip.) Optional wine pairings can also be added when you buy the tickets.
The problem isn't needing to buy tickets in advance (that part is actually pretty cool.) The problem is how available tickets are announced: on Facebook. NEXT announces all its same-day reservation openings and new available tickets via its Facebook fan page. If you're not on Facebook when the post goes up, you have NO chance of scoring said reservations.
Who are these people who have all this time on their hands to stalk NEXT's Facebook page 24-7, trying to get same-day reservations?! Because one look at the page will tell you TONS of people are on it.
Plus, same-day reservations are cool and all, but what about people who have children (like we do) and can't secure a babysitter on such short notice. Same-day reservations cut so many people out of the experience.
And from most of the comments on the page, many people who try to get tickets can't because the system is so indunated with people clicking away.
When we first learned of the ticket system, we we're super excited. What a concept! we thought, But why can't email play a bigger role? Why not send out emails to the list when tickets are available? More of us are glued to email--especially during the work day--more than Facebook. Plus, some of us are blocked from Facebook by our places of employment. It just seems so UNFAIR--and somewhat silly. Even Twitter would work better than Facebook.
It turns having a great meal by a great chef into a circus--and is this really what people want from a fine-dining experience?
Last summer, we went to Achtaz's 3-star-Michilen restaurant, Alinea, and it was one of the most amazing experiences we've ever had. The best part: a reservation. We were able to make a reservation with a small group of friends and not worry about it. We also didn't have to waste our time on Facebook.
We also walked into Aviary on night-three (after only a 10-minute wait) and enjoyed it tremendously.
On a side note: What is up with this lastest Chicago resturant trend of not taking reservations? It's getting really annoying, especially for those of us who like to dine in groups.
Anyway, what do you all think? Is NEXT worth constantly having to hit the refresh button?