The French Laundry, Thomas Keller's legendary Michelin-starred Yountville, CA restaurant, has officially switched from using OpenTable to the Tock ticketing system for reservations. The switch, which went into effect on March 20, offered three months worth of reservations all at once, making reservations more accessible than ever to the general public. As of publishing this piece, there are no reservations available.
The initial range of tickets dates was from March 20 to June 30. The subsequent two months of reservations will be released on May 1 and moving forward, releases will fall on the first day of odd-numbered months: January, March, May, July, September and November.
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According to chef Keller, the switch to Tock was motivated by the staff's desire to eliminate the frustration of wait times over the phone, while still retaining the finest elements of their guest services program. "Guests will still be able to speak with our concierge who will reach out after an online reservation has been made," he said in a statement. "Although we cannot always guarantee a table, we can guarantee a more streamlined experience. Our reservations policy and philosophy remain the same. We will simply be fulfilling our commitment to our guests even more smoothly than ever before.”
Introduced by Nick Kokonas (Alinea, Aviary, Next) in 2015, Tock charges restaurants a monthly fee of $99 for limited features or $695 monthly for unlimited use. The software provides tools to help manage the guest experience, including the ability to sell pre-paid tickets to hold a table, which is then deducted from the final bill. With diners pre-paying for tables, Tock also helps offset the costs of no shows, which reportedly occur in 10 percent of fine dining reservations.
The French Laundry has also started letting customers book reservations through their Facebook page. The 'Book Now' button sends visitors directly to The French Laundry's Tock profile where they can then search for available openings.
The French Laundry has just completed a major renovation that saw the kitchen staff working in four shipping containers over the past two years, while the kitchen, wine cellar, and grounds received a $10 million overhaul. The new state-of-the-art complex includes a 2,000-square-foot kitchen, a 16,000-bottle wine cellar, extensive solar paneling, a new office annex and 9,000 square feet of new landscape design. Unlike the original kitchen, which was described In Grant Achatz and Kokonas' 2011 book Life, On the Line as being cramped and at times very difficult to work in, the new French Laundry kitchen is, "spacious and sunlit by skylights and wraparound windows overlooking a garden. It has swooping vaulted ceilings meant to mimic draped linen." And if you want to see it for yourself, just hover over your computer around May 1.