Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

gfron1

Restaurant Ticketing Systems

Recommended Posts

yup.  16 x 5 x 52 = 4,160 patrons.  at $75/head = $312,000 gross.  at a whopping industry unheard of 20% gross profit, that's $62,500/yr

in "fine dining" something on the order of 5-7% is more realistic.

 

booze is always a good mark up with relatively low costs. 

go wild - explode the estimates - $30/patron pure profit.

x 4,160 = $124,800/yr; max, not likely to approach that.....

 

Red Lobster / Outback / dozens and dozens of 'other' run to $50-60/head, all inclusive.

 

perhaps "better dining" is more apt that "fine dining?" 

 

have you had exposure to all the costs in running a food establishment?  there's a whole lot more than the Sysco and payroll items.  I'm very doubtful one can provide "fine dining" and booze at a $115/head cost.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I realise it's a very different market. But I wonder if you'd get something from looking at http://lespetitsgris.co.uk/ (they also have a FB page) from the tiny amount of diners you are trying to cover.

 

I'd have happily paid a fee up front the second time. But not the first time. That's your difficulty.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've just educated myself, they're not a couple, lol.

 

http://lespetitsgris.co.uk/aboutus/

 

I've never seen Damien front of house :D

 

Anyway, as you were.

 

I think it's a hard balance, trying to insulate risk while building loyalty.

 

Some of the most incredible places I ate in Japan had a max of 12 - 16 covers, and built their business. But that organic growth can be a really tough act. Good luck.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Deryn said:

gfron1 - I presume you have done the appropriate demographic research for the St. Louis area (i.e. I just looked here city data link St Louis). I should think the demographics of the particular city you will locate your restaurant in would greatly influence whether a pre-paid system might even have a chance of being feasible.

 

I see that, in St. Louis proper at least, the median income appears rather lower than I would think would make that kind of system 'popular' at least before you have a 'reputation'/track record where you could draw in people from well outside the area. I also see that it seems that St. Louis is losing population at least in recent years and isn't that large to begin with (although I know it is much larger than the town where you currently reside).

 

Perhaps you know more about that area than I do. Just a personal comment about that - I would go 200 miles to avoid St. Louis these days - because I have been there but as a city, it not only just doesn't appeal to me, but with the tensions there in past years, I am not sure I want to go too close, even for a wonderful dinner at your pending new establishment. So, of course, take my comments with a grain of salt.  

 

However, some people do like the city even if I don't, so I think it is important that you consider the opinion of your local target market. While your price point sounds fine to me (and definitely a bargain from what I know about your culinary finesse, etc.), and the system you are proposing would be viable for me for perhaps that one special occasion a year, what would people from St. Louis think, especially if many are probably more on a beer and chips budget and/or have not been sufficiently exposed to 'haute cuisine' yet to appreciate why they should make the up front 'investment' just to try your fare?

 

St. Louis is a fine city.  It has problems and no-go areas like any other metropolitan area in this world.

Don't take my word for it.  'The New York Times' put St. Louis on their places to visit list this year.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/07/travel/places-to-visit.html?_r=0

 

  • Like 2

Maybe I would have more friends if I didn't eat so much garlic?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, AlaMoi said:

yup.  16 x 5 x 52 = 4,160 patrons.  at $75/head = $312,000 gross.  at a whopping industry unheard of 20% gross profit, that's $62,500/yr

in "fine dining" something on the order of 5-7% is more realistic.

 

have you had exposure to all the costs in running a food establishment?  there's a whole lot more than the Sysco and payroll items.  I'm very doubtful one can provide "fine dining" and booze at a $115/head cost.

 

I'm not so sure that I'll be using Sysco, but clearly I don't have the experience and expertise as you in this area, so thank you for the feedback.


Edited by gfron1 (log)
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, AlaMoi said:

have you had exposure to all the costs in running a food establishment?


I'm guessing, based on the above question, you have no idea what it is Rob does and has been doing for a long time. And the typical modern high-end tasting menu does not have a choice of 1 each from 3 apps, mains and desserts. It's typically multiple courses set by the chef with very little to no choosing involved (though accommodation for allergy and other medical problems is generally made and some chefs will allow minor variances for personal taste). I'm sure there are exceptions but pretty much every high-end tasting menu I've seen in the past 10 years follows pretty closely to that plan.

  • Like 4

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've bought tickets to multiple dinners at Next,  Alinea, Grace, L2O, and Elizabeth (in Chicago), and Empellon Cocina in New York, all using the Tock system They all take full payment up front, and don't offer refunds. (Actually, I bet you could contact Elizabeth and they'd let you off the hook - they're such nice people. :) ).

 

I live near Cleveland, and there's just one restaurant that has attempted a ticket system. Jonathon Sawyer's Trentina started out as a tasting menu only place that required purchasing the table in advance. They still offer the "Menu Bianco" tasting menu, but started offering an a la carte menu and also take reservations (for the shorter menu). I suspect that a market like Cleveland just isn't big enough to sustain a ticket-only system. Don't know if STL is enough bigger to change that dynamic.

 

I think your proposed system of half up front, remainder day of, is much more appealing. Especially since a full refund is available if you cancel in time. I've been burned a couple of times when I had to unload some Tock tickets that I couldn't use. :(

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can tell you, gfron1, if I was living in the St. Louis area and you came to town, I would want to go to your restaurant and it would not matter to me if I had to pre-pay or not!

 

You know your intended clientele well then ... I wasn't aware that you did. Go for it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Big Joe the Pro said:

 

St. Louis is a fine city.  It has problems and no-go areas like any other metropolitan area in this world.

Don't take my word for it.  'The New York Times' put St. Louis on their places to visit list this year.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/07/travel/places-to-visit.html?_r=0

 

 

I lived in St. Louis for 8 years, though it was more than a decade ago, and I still visit occasionally.  I loved my time there and would have happily stayed had circumstances allowed.  It was very different from any place I’d lived before and since, but there were many things about the city, its culture, and quality of life that I enjoyed and still miss.  I lived in the city proper, and my two neighborhoods there are still among my favorite places.

 

As a city and region it certainly has its problems, but for purposes of this discussion I think the key thing to know is that the aggregate economic and demographic data masks the fact that the city’s neighborhoods and nearby ‘burbs differ greatly. There are many strong, lively, thriving areas with good restaurants, some high-end, others more eclectic/ethnic/casual.  There are neighborhoods and ‘burbs which, economically, are obvious homes for more expensive restaurants, but some of the best/most popular are in quirky, unexpected spots.  People will find their way if it’s good.

 

That said, in my experience there, I think your proposed system could work if it’s straightforward, unpretentious, and priced fairly.   It might be easier for potential customers to understand if it’s presented simply as a prix fixe menu, deposit required, refundable with >48 hr cancellation.

 

Do you expect that you’ll be able to provide some information about the meal before the 48 hr cancellation time--theme, featured ingredients, something so it isn’t a complete mystery?  That could be both reassuring to first-time customers as well as a selling point.

 

I’ll be very interested to see how your local/foraging approach translates to St. Louis. One of the things I miss about the area is the long, warm growing season. I haven’t had a truly great peach since I moved back to the northeast, and it was always exciting when local farmers offered morels and black walnuts.

 


Edited by LindaK formatting troubles (log)
  • Like 3


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, gfron1 said:

I'm not so sure that I'll be using Sysco, but clearly I don't have the experience and expertise as you in this area, so thank you for the feedback.

 

 

Tri2Cook is correct - I've no clue about your background.  I'm guessing there's more to the proposed concept - if you're in the business you are in the best position to know what the numbers say.  and I sincerely wish you good fortune with the endeavor.

 

one of my specialty areas in near 30 years of consulting was sorting out "WTF?  Why am I going broke?" for independent eatery owners/operators.  I developed a slightly different viewpoint from that kind of cold hearted analysis.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do appreciate that, and the original question was not about me, but about ticketing systems in general. I've been fortunate to be in the black from my first year forward. There are many types of restaurants - some that are all about maximizing profits, and some that are about creating profitable artistry. I lean toward the latter.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just read El Ideas policies and it gave me a thought. Discount for buying a non-refundable ticket, BUT walk-ins at your risk available. Because the reality is that preparing for 16 is nothing and it would allow people to take a chance if they can't commit. I'm wondering how to alert people to open seats in real-time that wouldn't burden the staff. Tweets are not too hard but could easily be forgotten at the last minute during prep. I wonder about a live cam that shows the kitchen but also has a small white board showing seats available.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pok Pok NY is a very popular thai restaurant, that, up until relatively recently, didn't take reservations... they didn't want to be bothered with people constantly calling for an estimated wait time for a table, so they set up a webcam fixed onto a white board, where the front door staff kept it updated with the average wait time.  Obviously,  this is a different application, but I used to visit their website to see the white board all the time.

 

Another one who did something similar is the original location of Shake Shack, in Mad. Sq. park in NYC... they have a webcam near their entrance that allows you to see how long the line is, so you can estimate the wait time yourself.

 

So putting a webcam on a whiteboard that shows the number of seats available is a good idea, IMO...

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, KennethT said:

Pok Pok NY is a very popular thai restaurant, that, up until relatively recently, didn't take reservations...

 

It's interesting that Andy Ricker used a reservation system with a non-refundable deposit when he opened Pok Pok in Los Angeles but ended up abandoning the system.  

 

From that Eater interview:

Ricker said he dropped Tock because some diners mistakenly believed that "they could only eat at Pok if they purchased a ticket," as well as because servers were forgetting to apply Tock payments to bills, and because customers were not informing Pok Pok they made Tock reservations.

"I think it is a good system, just not built for large scale, casual, mid-priced restaurants with almost unlimited seating (we have 230 chairs!). We still use it in Portland as we are only using it to manage about 24 seats and the demand is huge." Pok Pok now relies on OpenTable in Los Angles, Ricker says, adding that with Tock, "only the young tech and food-savvy crowd seem to get it."

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@gfron1It seems that Pok Pok got rid of their webcam... I used to visit it all the time, back in the day when the did not accept reservations.  Maybe they don't need it anymore now that people can make reservations through OpenTable...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Discount for buying a non-refundable ticket, BUT walk-ins at your risk available"

 

As a consumer, this sounds like a great idea to me. It seems to work for the hotel industry.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...