Getting reservations at extra-exclusive restaurants can feel like a futile effort, as places like Rao's are impenetrable and others like Carbone require stalking reservation sites or knowing a guy who knows a guy.
But Appointment Trader lets you buy your way into the world's hottest restaurants.
It's like greasing the palm of the door guy, but via the Internet. Because, really, who carries cash anymore?
Rather than paying a set fee to the restaurant, Appointment Trader links up individuals who want to buy and sell reservations. The site posts reservations that are up for grabs—the restaurant, day and time—along with a sale price. You can then purchase that reservation from the original holder, and show up at the appointed time. If your desired table isn't available, you can proactively place a bid, letting diners know how much you're willing to pay to score their table. If they like the offer, they can sell you their reservation.
The site looks a bit like a stock exchange and even has Buy and Sell buttons, with a "stock ticker" that scrolls across the page announcing the latest deals.
Right now, restaurants in New York seem to get the most attention, with spots like Carbone and 4 Charles Prime Rib drawing lots of buyers and sellers. A table for two at 6pm on a Thursday might cost $75, while a table for four on a Saturday night might run $200. Then, of course, you still have to show up and pay for dinner.
The site requires a lot of users for the service to be really useful, but the platform works in hundreds of cities, including Miami, Dallas, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and it's also in international destinations like Paris.
The New York Times reports that Appointment Trader started as a way to buy and sell appointments at the DMV. Pretty smart idea, and that explains the name.
But such a service almost assuredly came without a single plate of spicy rigatoni vodka.