Since he co-founded online reservation platform Tock in 2014, Nick Kokonas has been championing the notions of variable pricing and ticketing in the restaurant space.
Those models, familiar to consumers in such industries as airlines and sporting events, have gained traction — Tock is in use in 150 cities in 28 countries across the globe — but they’ve struggled to find practical applications in restaurants outside fine dining.
Until now. Late last year, Starbucks used Tock to offer access to limited-time experiences at its largest location, the newly opened Chicago Reserve Roastery. The offerings included a coffee and dessert tasting for two for $60 per person, and $175 tickets to a New Year’s Eve party at the Roastery.
They sold out almost immediately.
The partnership was for a limited number of events in December, and no similar events are currently planned. But the move sparked questions about how Tock might eventually reach a more diverse network of brands and price points.
Kokonas, who is also co-owner of Chicago-based The Alinea Group, the restaurant company he co-founded with celebrated chef Grant Achatz, launched Tock with ex-Google executive Brian Fitzpatrick to address the nagging issue of no-shows, overbooking and waste, which can be particularly costly in higher-end establishments.
The platform’s reservations and other guest management tools are designed to give restaurant owners more control over the way they run their businesses and hold guests accountable for their bookings, in order to create a more efficient and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.