Australia’s first ticketed restaurant has opened in Melbourne, offering pre-purchased meals and a guaranteed seat.
Renowned chef Philippa Sibley together with restaurateur Jason Jones have collaborated for the European-inspired restaurant called Prix Fixe. The dining room opened earlier this year in Alfred Place, close to the Paris end of Collins Street.
According to the owners, the new ticketed seating concept benefits everyone.
“Diners know exactly how much their meal will cost and are guaranteed a table on time, no-shows are eliminated and suppliers have an opportunity to have their produce featured," the restaurant's website reads.
Prix Fixe follows a rapidly growing trend of restaurants which have ticketed seating. Chicago's celebrity chef, Grant Achatz and his business partner Nick Kokonas are credited with started the trend with their Next and Alinea restaurants.
According to Restaurant Business Online, 95 per cent of customers who book a restaurant table show up to dine with the remaining five per cent making takings difficult for smaller businesses in particular.
With the growing popularity of top chefs, diners are willing to pay for food, service and an experience and just like the theatre and will guarantee their attendance by pre-booking and paying for a seat.
Prix Fixe sells tickets online to a rotating monthly menu. Drinks are charged on consumption and walk-ins are welcome if there is space available.
The concept could certainly benefit Melbourne’s restaurant scene, which continues to heat up. According to 2012 statistics, there were 178,320 restaurant seats in the city that year.
Prix Fixe's interior was designed by Melbourne design firm Fiona Lynch, which says the project embraces “the inherent sense of theatre present in busy, dynamic restaurants.”
“A physical expression of what is a bold, confident and directional move, the Prix Fixe dining room is formed from a material palette of mirror and marble, brass and metallic glazed linen, exposed ceiling fixtures and concrete. It’s moody yet inviting, luxe yet raw, and undoubtedly dramatic,” the firm said.
The metallic soft furnishings, including the silver drapes at the front desk, fit with the theatre-inpired design. While the interior offers quite a cool colour palette including the wall art, it is warmed by clever illumination through the suspension of custom-made copper ceramic light fittings over clothed tables. Furniture is neat and classic, with diners seated on a mix of chairs and bench seating.
“I’ve had these custom-made lights made to shine down on just your table,” Jones told Broadsheet in February. “You look around, and you’re looking into darkness. Your table is the stage, and the food that comes is the performance.”
Marc Vetri, owner of Philadephia-based restaurant Vetri, promises diners a similar experience and predicts similar concepts will become more commonplace.
"This is the hospitality industry and going online to buy a ticket is not the hospitality industry - it's a sporting event," he told Philly.com.