The Most Exclusive Restaurant Reservations Are On One Mysterious Site

Landing a restaurant reservation during prime-time meal hours can be tricky, particularly for establishments in high demand. One entrepreneur has set out to solve the problem by creating a website that helps diners secure reservations at some of the most elusive establishments in major dining destinations like New York City, Los Angeles, London, and Madrid. Upon visiting the Appointment Trader website, users are met with tables of times and can bid on reservations already secured at the listed venues.

"These are restaurants that have exclusivity, and that makes it more desirable," one user told the New York Times. "I'm paying more of a premium because I want to be at this specific restaurant."

To secure reservations, users place bids on the platform, and an additional feature allows visitors to sell the reservations they have made and cannot use themselves. Venues can also claim profiles and add their listings directly to the site. 

Snagging coveted restaurant seats

The site's creator, Jonas Frey, took it upon himself to develop an algorithm that uses cellphone data to pinpoint busy times at popular restaurants to set the initial bidding values listed on Appointment Trader's website. After experiencing frustration in trying to score reservations at various establishments himself, Frey thought this kind of service would be appreciated by those with neither the patience nor wherewithal to plan dinner reservations in advance.

However, the Appointment Trader site has been met with some skepticism, as some restaurant owners have balked at the concept of using a third-party site that sells reservations that can be made for free. According to the New York Times, the site isn't always reliable, and several attempts to contact the website's customer service went unanswered; some Redditors, whether part of the social elite themselves or just trying to turn a buck, have also expressed difficulty making reservations. Frey maintains his business doesn't have the support staff to accommodate inquiries, yet Robb Report estimates over $2 million of reservations have been sold online. If you can't snag the dinner reservation you want, this could be a resource to try.