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Next for Nick Kokonas: Making the ticket reservation concept catch on

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[photo by Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times]

Next, opening next month from Alinea's Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas, may be the first restaurant in Chicago that will require customers to buy tickets to eat there, but it may not be the last.

Kokonas (at right, with Achatz) is starting a company to develop a Web-based system that restaurants or other companies can use for ticket sales or reservations. achatz-FOO-0302-12.JPG

The idea, Kokonas says, is to enable companies to incorporate the software into their own websites and set their own parameters (such as "dynamic pricing," which is how Next will operate, where tickets will be pricier at peak times -- say, 7 p.m. on a Saturday), and to make it "far less expensive than competing systems like Open Table."

"So if you are a gallery, the event you have coming up can include the info right on your website, plus the ticket sales right there," Kokonas said via e-mail. "No need to click to another site, or pay any further fees or percentage of sales etc."

As far as Kokonas can tell, there isn't a software system like this out there. Of course, this is how Kokonas and Achatz roll. Doesn't exist? Create it.

After the jump: other random tidbits buried or otherwise left out of this week's cover story on the release of Achatz's memoir and his forthcoming projects.

* Kokonas, who has always wanted to write fiction, has written a few hundred pages of another book, a fictional story about "a guy who gets a unique second chance -- this has nothing to do with Grant -- and that second chance may not be quite the second chance you think it is. It's a mind warp-y thing."

* The chefs at Aviary and Next have been playing around with, in Achatz's words, "all kinds of new toys" from Polyscience, the Niles company that developed the Anti-Griddle and other tools for Achatz. One such toy: a sonifier, which "micro-emulsifies" substances by busting the cells apart (think immersion blender on crack). So an allspice tincture that you mix up and let steep for a few weeks -- "we can do it in 60 seconds," Achatz says.

* In addition to the ice-making room and glass-washing room in the basement of Aviary, there is a laundry room.

* And in addition to all of that, Next and Aviary will have shared bathrooms in the basement, just off that mysterious door marked "Office." So everyone who was lucky enough to get in the door at any of the above can talk amongst themselves.

4 Comments

that is a great idea. Some restaurants down here in Miami would be "sold out" for months if this concept catches on. How has it worked in Chicago so far?

I'd love to hear about the results and the feedback from the restaurant's customers.


Hi Nick, remember me? Wescott school, Northbrook, Il? You have come a long way!

I will contact all of your teachers. You came to the Learning Center and we had a good time everyday !!!!

I will follow your progress!

Mary Pardini

I dunno about buying tickets to eat out..........this might take some getting used to.....

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Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.

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