You need to take your client or your date to Nobu, Lupa or Gramercy Tavern on Friday night? Need to take your friends to Le Bernardin this Saturday? You called these places and there are no reservations. Don't worry. PrimeTimeTables ( http://www.primetimetables.com/ ) might be your answer.
For about $40 (approx) a reservation, service providers like PrimeTimeTables and withoutreservations.biz will provide you reservations at fancy upscale restaurants.
Essentially, these providers capitalize on the arbitrage opportunity available (restaurants make reservations, but do not penalize no-shows). They make reservations under fictitious names well in advance and then sell that to the public. Once you purchase the reservation, you are provided with a pseudonym that you will need to use for your reservation.
Since restaurants usually experience an average of 30% no-shows, it is to their benefit to ensure a full house. The customer who is in a rush and is willing to pay a premium is assured of his/her reservation. By providing this service, PrimeTimeTables also makes a nice commission. Seems like a win-win all around - although some people do not like the idea of using "fictitious names".
Forgetting the moral side of the equation, it is an excellent lesson in Economics 101. Since the restaurant does not charge a penalty for no-shows and it hurts them (in case of a slow day/evening), the arbitrageur (PrimeTimeTables) finds the next available customer for the restaurant for a fee. As more of these providers come up, it would cause their fees to go down (price war). Also, it might become an issue for the “legitimate customer” to get reservations – since these providers would grab more and more of the reservations.
But till then, we can make an advance reservation ourselves at Nobu or go to PrimeTimeTables!!!