Chef and restaurateur Grant Achatz is known for the ultra-pricey, fantastically complex food at his flagship Alinea restaurant, where he coined the term "molecular gastronomy." At his new restaurant concept, Next, things were supposed to be different.
First, it was supposed to be cheaper: from $45 to $110, depending on the night, compared to the $195 per person it cost to dine at Alinea. And in order to avoid the costly issues Achatz had to deal with at Alinea -- no-shows, a reservations staff, the lost revenue from a four-person table with only three patrons ("three-top," in restaurant parlance) -- Next sold tickets, which included tax and tip and for which you can buy flat-rate wine and beverage pairings, through a proprietary software system.
Although the ticketing site won't be open to the public -- unless users previously registered to be notified -- until May 1, already customers on one blog are grumbling they're being treated "like dog doo" due to the insanely high traffic that caused all the early tickets to be snapped up before anyone could blink that were then put on sale by scalpers for as much as $3,000. This was done despite a resale warning note on Next's website explaining that "...we strongly encourage anyone considering buying tickets to Next from any other source to refrain from doing so without confirmation from us" and that "We will not honor any ticket holders without proper authentication."
Perhaps the biggest irony is that Achatz and his partner, Nick Kokonas, intended this new restaurant to be "an experience that is actually a great value" as they told the New York Times, with all the hidden costs of dining (like those reservation-takers) stripped out.
What the pair's theory didn't account for: supply, demand and the greed of the Chicago scalper.
Tickets for 'Affordable' Achatz Restaurant Scalped for $3000