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PrimeTimeTables: What Do We Make Of All This?

So PrimeTimeTables has been operating quietly since November 2005 and is owned by Pascal Riffaud, who owns Personal Concierge International and is married to Karine Bakhoum, who puts the KB in KB Network News. They're adamant that they are selling the service of making reservations, not the reservations themselves and that the business is a win-win for diners and restaurateurs alike.

So we asked some of NY's top restaurant industry people: What do we make of all this?

William Tigertt, owner of Freemans: "Still sounds sketchy to me. If my restaurant was on the list, and started seeing more no-shows, I would update my reservation terms of use contract and start checking ID to confirm that people weren’t using fake names. It would only take a dozen or so “high rollers” getting shut down with and left with no table on busy weekend to send these carpet baggers back to the gray area of cyberspace they crawled out from. Good luck on getting your yearly $400 membership back after they’ve disappeared though.

If they were some sort of legit concierge or diner’s club, they would post a phone number, address, and name of at least one human that worked there."

John McDonald, owner of Lure, Chinatown Brasserie and others: "I am quite skeptical that this will work. “Middleman” bookings are hard enough when you make them for friends who in turn, often,no-show or change party size. The restaurants get the short end of the stick unless their is a guaranteed fee for such a booking. If Ben Leventhal wants to hold a table for everyday of the week and deliver the per head revenue than I will gladly hold any table you want. I have key concierge sources who are reliable to a fault about delivering business and I don’t have to warehouse tables. Deathwatch?"

Phil Baltz, Baltz & Co. PR: "This is not the first company of its type. dinnerbroker.com started doing business around '99/00 and, apparently still are. If I remember correctly, they offered essentially the same service--although it appears to be a somewhat different model now. www.dinnerbroker.com

When restaurant demand is up so dramatically, all sorts of interesting new businesses try to get in on the action. No one likes to hear we, "All we have is 6 or 10 p.m." so I suppose this might appeal to certain restaurantgoers. For many others, they'll simply use other less costly connections or plan further out."

Anonymous High-Ranking PR Official: "It reminds me of the 80s when you waited on line and hoped to be chosen to enter a nightclub – that was inevitably empty inside anyway. I always said that if you were fat and ugly you shouldn’t even bother going out as you’d never get selected. This is the same thing. not only is lying to get reservations a sin, but the fact that you have to pay is disgusting. Think about those people that don’t have an extra $45 bucks to throw around?they’re at an immediate disadvantage because they can’t pay for last minute tables? Whatever happened to hospitality?"

Part two of What Do We Make of All This? is coming later this afternoon.
· PrimeTimeTables: Just Some Basic Facts [~E~]
· PrimeTimeTables: 'We Are NOT Selling Tables at Restaurants' [~E~]
· PrimeTimeTables: Let the Takedown Begin [~E~]
· PrimeTimeTables: WTF? [~E~]

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