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Thursday, April 15, 2004

For Sale: Reservations at Alain Ducasse


Via the libertarian gourmands at the Marginal Revolution comes a link to a fascinating article about how to bribe the maitre d' to get a last-minute reservation at NYC's most popular upscale restaurants.

Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution describes this as an example of "markets in everything." But surely, from the point of view of economic theory, the real puzzle is why there is no legitimate, up-front market where diners can bid for coveted reservations? Instead, we have a shadowy market of bribes and under-the-business-card payments to the maitre d', so unknown that even the sophisticated editors of Gourmet magazine don't believe it exists, until their intrepid reporter uncovers the shocking truth. Why do the restaurant owners let their employees pocket the payments for best tables and 7pm Friday reservations?

My view on how to get a reservation at NYC's best restaurants: go for lunch, not dinner.
 
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