What is Tock? It's a new way to make a restaurant reservation, and among its investors, it counts Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Per Se), venture capitalist Kimbal Musk, and Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. Tock is still developing, but the general idea is this: To reserve a table, you no longer give your name and a date and time only; now, you pay some or all of your bill up front. It's sort of like buying tickets to a sporting event, or a pop-up.
Headed by Chicago restauranteur Nick Kokonas (Alinea, Next, and the Aviary), Tock has received mixed responses from restaurants across the nation. Pok Pok recently adopted the system, allowing tables of six or more to make reservations using Tock, and the terminally sold out Farm Spirit pop-up has been using Tock since summer. At the time of writing, these are the only Portland restaurants currently using the system that Eater knows of.
Is there a benefit to putting a deposit down for your table? What do you think? Tock says its potential benefits include a stronger relationship between you and your favorite restaurants. For instance, Tock does not require downloading an app like OpenTable, so, in theory, it eliminates a middleman of some sort.
The potential benefits for restaurants are more obvious. It protects them against no-shows, and with fewer no-shows, restaurants can more accurately predict their food needs, thereby cutting down on waste. Tock also gives restaurants the opportunity to eliminate tipping by offering one set price to diners, and it lets restaurants market special dinners differently; for instance, for a slew of special dinners, wd~50 chef and owner Wylie Dufresne made $41,000 in sales in two minutes using Tock.
Importantly, Tock also gives restaurants the option to accept regular ol' deposit-less table reservations. This feature was added after the initial Tock roll-out.
The big question for Portland is this: Now with the adoption by Pok Pok, will other local restaurants start using Tock? Is OpenTable dead?