The Michelin-starred Clove Club in London's Shoreditch is to introduce a pre-pay ticketing system for restaurant diners, starting next month.
The restaurant, from chef Isaac McHale and restaurateurs Daniel Willis and Johnny Smith, is to adopt the US-designed "Legacy" system. Allowing guests to buy pre-paid tickets online in advance of their meal, it is intended to reduce the number of "no-shows".
Legacy will then be replaced by a newer version, named Tock, next year. Both have been developed by Nick Kokonas, US-based restaurateur and owner of the three-Michelin-starred Alinea restaurant in Chicago, USA. No shows at Alinea had dropped to 2% since the process was introduced there, Kokonas has said.
The system also allows owners to change prices depending on the desirability of the booking, meaning guests will be able to get the tasting menus for a reduced price at a less popular sitting time.
Diners will still be able to walk in to the restaurant at lunchtime, when a number of tables are expected to be kept spare. The Clove Club's tasting menus start at £65 per person.
Other restaurants to have adopted the Legacy/Tock programme include the French Laundry in California.
The Clove Club's McHale said: "[The booking system] is going to ruffle a few feathers. [But] the more ambitious your restaurant, the more money you spend on ingredients and staff, and you want to keep prices down. We tend to have very high break-evens."
Co-founder Daniel Willis said: ‘[We] haven't been afraid of trying new things in the past, from starting our business in our flat, to crowdfunding our first restaurant. We're really excited to be the first restaurant in the UK to adopt Tock and feel it's a great system for our diners as well as the industry."
The Clove Club won its first Michelin star in 2014, and serves carefully-sourced menus featuring regularly-changing dishes such as flamed Cornish mackerel, roast Pollock, Yorkshire suckling pig, glazed endive, and an organic duck egg yolk with a grain risotto.