A host of exclusive London restaurants will this summer start charging diners for their meals when they make a reservations, The Telegraph understands.
One Michelin-started eatery has already confirmed it will use an online booking system that aims to cut drastically the number of last-minute cancellations and “no-shows”.
The Clove Club in Shoreditch, east London, will allow customers to chose from a £65 or £95 tasting menu, which must be paid for upfront. The drinks bill will be settled at the table.
The new ticketing service is provided by Tock, an American company, which plans to make the technology available to any establishment in June.
Nick Kokonas, founder of the firm, which already provides the software to restaurants in the United States, said the Clove Club was among a number of British restaurants to sign up.
“We have many inquiries from the UK and several high-profile restaurants that will be using Tock once the full system is released,” he said.
Hundreds of restaurants around the world are considering adopting the technology, he said, following months of development work with a former Google engineer.
As with tickets for theatre shows or sporting events, Tock allows a restaurant to charge for seats at specific times on specific days.
A restaurant might offer a set menu at a fixed price, or ask for a significant deposit that can be offset against the eventual price of the meal. Diners enter the credit card details to pay before the reservation is confirmed. Each restaurant will be able to shape the technology to its needs.
Mr Kokonas said since using the software in his Chicago restaurant Alinea, which is rated as one of the best in the world, the number of bookings where customers failed to turn up had fallen from six per cent to 1 per cent.
The booking system also allowed the restaurant to manage the demand, offering reduced prices at slightly less busy times and increasing them on Saturday evenings, for example.
Isaac McHale, head chef of the Clove Club, told Bloomberg, the business news service: “It’s going to ruffle a few feathers, but everyone has a problem with no shows and short-seated tables.
“The more ambitious your restaurant, the more money you spend on ingredients and staff, and you want to keep prices down.”