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Friday Question: Would You Pay For a Reservation?

Written By Scott Joseph On January 10, 2014

caligrill napkin

Would you pay for the privilege of making a reservation in a trendy restaurant during peak hours? Or anytime? This article from Slate makes the argument for just that, but the author, Matthew Yglesias, doesn’t quite get the point of the ticketing system for Grant Achatz’s Alinea. In that case you’re not only paying for a reservation you’re paying for the dinner in advance. (I do the same thing with my Supper Club events, just to be all disclosurely about it.)

But what about just a nominal fee to get an 8 p.m. table at, say, California Grill? Or what if restaurants took a cue from the airlines and charged a premium for the best tables, maybe one with a view? Or better legroom?

Victoria & Albert’s, the ultra chic restaurant at the Grand Floridian, has long required a credit card to secure reservations, and charges a fee to the card if the guests don’t show. But if guests show up for the reservation, the dinner charge is the same, so we’re talking about something else here.

So here’s the setup: The hottest place in town is always packed and has a two-hour wait on weekends, and you really want to go tonight at eight o’clock. You hear that the restaurant has some tables “for sale” at that hour. Are you willing to pay just to secure a table? And if so, how much? Five bucks, $10, $25? Leave your comments below.

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