Achatz introduces congestion pricing

Grant Achatz,Alinea,French Laundry News Wine News
  • Monday 10 May 2010

In what is a first for restaurants, American chef Grant Achatz is implementing a congestion pricing policy for his new restaurant.

Achatz, chef-owner of Alinea restaurant in Chicago, will sell tickets to Next Restaurant – scheduled to open in the autumn - at prices graded according to peak and off-peak times.

Tables at peak times will cost more than those at less desirable times, with tickets carrying a base price of between $45-75 (£30-50) for five or six courses, plus a supplement for drinks.

Achatz described the challenges of running Alinea - a wildly popular restaurant - and his rationale for trying out timed ticketing.

‘We now pay three or four reservationists all day long to basically tell people they can’t come to the restaurant,’ he told the New York Times. The new policy will allow him to dispense with the head count, the better to divert it to ‘an experience that is actually great value’.

Tickets will be available through the restaurant's website which currently features a YouTube video describing the concept of a menu that changes four times a year, each season focusing on a different location and era. The first evokes Paris circa 1912.

The restaurant will also offer season tickets covering a full year.

Achatz, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America and spent several years at The French Laundry, specialises in molecular gastronomy. He has received numerous awards including this year's top honour for outstanding service from the James Beard Foundation.

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