As someone whose weekly diet staples all start with the letter “P”—pancake, potato, parmesan—I don’t make a lot of fancy restaurant reservations. Still, I’d imagine that there’s nothing more annoying than locking down the hottest table in town, only to have the unexpected creep up and ruin your plans. That’s especially true if you’ve pre-paid for a nonrefundable reservation at one of the nation’s hottest eateries. Enter Reddit, where some users are selling their prepaid reservations to high-end restaurants across the country.
Eater reports that, as the omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to put a dent in travel and dining plans, hawking one’s high-end reservations has become more and more popular. You can find desperate diners on subreddits like r/FoodNYC, where a pinned post explains the protocol for selling restaurant reservations. There, the moderators explain that reservation scalping is strictly prohibited. “One penny more than the exact amount you paid and you will be banned,” the moderators warn. “This is not Stubhub.”
With this in mind, Redditors are using r/FoodNYC to sell their prepaid reservations for a variety of reasons—illness, travel restrictions, and unexpected double-booking, just to name a few. Near Takeout headquarters, Alinea bookings are also being offered via r/ChicagoFood. (The original poster seems to have deleted the post—here’s hoping they successfully hawked their reservation.)
The logistics of transferring a restaurant reservation may seem a bit fuzzy. However, Eater reports that many of the fanciest reservations are through Tock, which offers a pre-paid booking transfer option between Tock users. Eater also checked in with Tock founder Nick Kokonas, who reported that the platform’s pandemic-related refund requests have hit their highest level since March 2020, likely in response to the omicron spike.
The way I see it, this is a win-win system. If your plans change, you can (hopefully) ditch your reservations and recoup the cost. However, Reddit also seems like a great resource if you’re having trouble scoring a table at a fine dining destination. Happy hunting!