Next is a fascinating Chicago restaurant that serves a single, fixed menu that changes every three months. You don’t make reservations; you buy tickets. The current menu is titled “Tour of Thailand.” It’s full of fascinating ideas.
By selling tickets instead of taking reservations, for example, Next builds service into the charge and gets rid of tipping. Everyone is on salary, and servers and cooks both receive the service charge dividends.
If you click through to Mark Bernstein's full post, you can read his description and reaction to the current Tour of Thailand menu at Next Restaurant (I'm linking to the FAQ, since the "home page" is literally just an invitation to create an account and buy tickets; and they're currently sold out).
The food is fascinating, but I'm even more fascinated by the model of selling tickets.
In Vancouver, you might check out the Irish Heather Long Table Series. I really should talk to Sean about switching to using Eventbrite directly, so people can self serve, and he can spend less time wrangling tickets.
What happens when you start having more ticket buyers than space? That is, people who go to every event you put on? Do you get to be wilder, even more creative? Or do you just cater to the audience that you have? Sounds kind of like the concerns of a music artist.
I've only done mass food delivery once. I got Mark Busse, Ben Garfinkel and the Industrial Brand gang (pre-Foodists) plus Robert Scales and myself to prepare / cook / serve 150 people for the Northern Voice 2007 pre-dinner / party. With live slide presentation of Lee & Sachi's world travel. Anyway, that was a crazy / fun experience, from which I learned many things, including that delivering food to 150 people without professional prep facilities is HARD.
I've thought a lot about getting involved with a restaurant/cafe/food enterprise. But I've done it before (dishpig / prep cook a long time ago), and it's a LOT OF WORK. Which is mainly filled with uncertainty, since you have to lose a lot of money waiting for people to show up, then hope they like what you make, and rinse and repeat.
A ticket / event based food experience is a different ball game. KickStarter for restaurants?