"People pay for tickets for entertainment," Trois Mec director of marketing Krissy Lefebvre told the Los Angeles Times. "This just happens to be entertainment in the form of dinner."
For the customer, nonrefundable ticketing may seem like a nuisance. But for the restaurant, it's an insurance policy. After all, if you make a reservation and don't show up, the restaurant doesn't just lose your business, it also loses the potential business of those it turned away because your table was reserved.
Some restaurants have chosen other ways to incentivize showing up. Customers making reservations at Eleven Madison Park in New York City leave their credit card information with the reservation office. According to the restaurant, any cancellation that takes place less than 48 hours prior to the reservation comes with a charge of $125 per person in the dining party. So unless you enjoy paying $500 for you and your friends to eat nothing, show up.
The restaurant business still has plenty of advocates for the tried-and-true methods known as reservations and walk-ins. Howard Cannon, a consultant with Birmingham, Alabama's Restaurant Expert Witness litigation support company, is one of them.