Reddit users are trying to sell their prepaid dinner reservations at Michelin-star restaurants to the highest bidders, with some listings reaching $1500

Empty restaurant
  • New Yorkers are turning to Reddit to sell their reservations, some of which cost upwards of $400 per person. 
  • Users will only be allowed to sell nonrefundable reservations at or below face value at the initial time of purchase.
  • Restaurants across the US are continuing to deal with cancellations and low-traffic due to rising COVID-19 infections.

People scouring for exclusive reservations at Michelin-star restaurants may be able to skip the months-long waiting line.

Moderators for Reddit group /FoodNYC said in a thread on Tuesday that they have seen an uptick of posts from users offering to sell their coveted restaurant spots.

As cases of COVID-19 and its Omicron variant soar in the US, reservation-only restaurants are once again dealing with increased cancellations and sparser dining rooms. New York City is facing over 32,000 COVID cases on a weekly average, making people less willing to spend time at restaurants and other indoor public spaces.

“Unfortunately 2 people in our party have tested positive for COVID, so we will not be making the trip to NYC,” one user said in a post about a table for four at Eleven Madison Park on New Year’s. “Asking for the price I paid. $1,524.25 total (inc tax) OBO.”

Eleven Madison Park, a Michelin-star restaurant in New York’s Flatiron District, typically touts months-long waitlists. Insider found two recent Reddit listings for reservations tickets within the next month. 

Another user offered two seats worth $707 at Michelin-star Atomix in late December, saying they had to cancel because their fiancé “was not feeling well.”  

Insider reached out to Eleven Madison Park and Atomix about their reservation policies in regards to the Reddit listings, but they have not yet responded.

FoodNYC’s moderators responded to the frequency of the posts, saying they will allow people to use the group to initiate reservation exchanges, but they also stipulated several conditions. 

“You may sell reservations for below or equal to face value (plus all taxes and fees) ONLY. You must clearly state the price in the post. One penny more than the exact amount you paid and you will be banned,” the moderators said in the post. “This is not StubHub. Gouging will not be tolerated.”

Reddit users will also only be allowed to sell nonrefundable reservations that would result in the loss of money, the moderators said, and those with refundable or free reservations should contact the respective restaurant to sort out cancellations. 

Earnest reservation exchanges, as well as “ticket” scalping, are not new, says Nick Kokonas, CEO of Tock, a third-party platform which handles reservations for Eleven Madison Park. Transactions have been going on for years through a variety of platforms, including Reddit, Craigslist, and Facebook.

“Ultimately, the reservations policies are controlled by the individual restaurants, not by Tock. But every restaurant I know of currently will refund a reservation due to COVID and safety precautions,” Kokonas said.

Per its Terms of Use, Tock monitors its platform for potential scalping activity, which it says is rare. 

Meanwhile, the Reddit group moderators said they are also not taking responsibility for transactions made on the page, encouraging users to do their own research before handing over money, like contacting the restaurant, authenticating accounts, and even meeting sellers in-person.