Say you have a special occasion coming up– a birthday or anniversary– and you want to hit the hot new restaurant in town. Problem is, the usual online reservation sites are booked up, and when you call the restaurant you find out that there isn’t availability for 1, 2, 6 months or even a year out.
And yet when businesses have important clients come to town, or high-end hotels need to satisfy special visitors, they have the connections to make such reservations happen. So it’s possible to get in, but is this kind of exclusive access limited to people with money, status or the right connections?
Yep, pretty much. But now regular foodies in Chicago may get those special connections via a new concierge service called Table Host. Starting this week, folks can use Table Host to experience high-end dining options, including unique VIP experiences, last minute accommodations, and priority seating. Membership is free and diners are able to reserve online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or by phone.
“Often, life’s most important events are spur-of-the-moment surprises,” says Co-Founder Ryan Anthony. “People don’t have weeks or months of advanced notice when they land a promotion, finally get that first date, or have an important client meeting. We try to solve that with a limited number of reservations that can be purchased online or through their host at the last minute. No more awkward tipping or calling in a favor from a friend.”
According to a press release, the company leverages its insider restaurant relationships to the benefit of diners everywhere, operating much like high-end hotel concierges. These high-end restaurants agree to the deal because it can not only fill up a restaurant facing last-minute reservation cancellations, but it also connects the business with quality customers. These are diners who are passionate about going to their specific restaurant and who will likely come back again and again– even after the restaurant moves from being a hot new fad to simply a beloved dining destination.
“We are working all the time to make sure that we have relationships in every top restaurant in the city,” says Anthony; at launch there are more than 30 restaurant partners, with more being added daily. “Each restaurant is very different in size, price point, and their ability to work technologically with us. We have created a flexible model that allows us to work with them at a level they are comfortable with.”
While membership is free you do have to pay to actually get the reservation. After signing up at www.tablehost.com, members make a reservation online or by contacting the host directly. The diner then pays Table Host to hold the reservation for a minimum of $40. While that might seem like a lot of money, for some people getting access to these venues, at this level of service, and for the right special occasion makes the cost worthwhile. And with expansions promised for New York and Los Angeles, it looks like Table Host may just catch on.