Forget ticket scalpers – now there are restaurant table scalpers! The Wall Street Journal had an article focusing on "table scalpers" who buy up desirable restaurant reservations and then resell them to hungry, status-conscious diners. One such table scalping site is Prime Time Tables .com. They can get you into all the hottest restaurants in New York, L.A., Toronto, Miami, London and other cities – for a price, of course. Their annual membership: $450 dollars, plus an extra $30 dollars per reservation. And they claim they specialize in “impossible reservations.”
The site was started by a former concierge at the Ritz in Paris who won’t reveal his tricks, but does say that he books the reservations under fake names to secure the tables. So how did booking a dinner reservation become a hot commodity? It's all because of recent changes in the restaurant world where eateries are smaller. Take Vetri in Philadelphia. It only has 11 tables. Schwa in Chicago has 13, Per Se in New York has 15. And the tables are always taken. But do you really have to pay close to $500 bucks to get a dinner reservation? The Journal set out to test it, making 400-thousand reservations in the process. They also surveyed maitre d's and general managers at the hardest-to-get-into restaurants around the world to find the best way to score a 7pm Saturday-night table. Here are their tips:
- Plan ahead. It turned out the "sweet spot" for advance booking is a month out. That window pulled a success rate 47 percent of the time.
- Another reservation “sweet spot”, the Thursday before the Saturday night you want to dine. Why? Because fancy restaurants will call to confirm a reservation two or three days out, then put the cancellations back in the system.
- Next, eat earlier. You’re 6 times more likely to get a table before 7pm than after.
- And restaurateurs across the board say they're turned off by people claiming to be hot shots or big spenders. What works best? Special circumstances. Like a spouse's birthday, an important client coming to town, or a burning desire to visit the restaurant while in town - often get you the table.