Vignette: Will the I Know the Chef App Become the Uber of the Restaurant Industry?

If a customer walked into a restaurant and said the phase "I know the chef"– they may be sat at the best table, get the ideal reservation time, or even get some extra foodie treats sent to their table made with love from the chef. But what if the diner did not really need to know the chef, but for an extra fee they could get the elevated dining experience they really want? 

Uber was revolutionary in the transportation industry. The service came along to offer consumers a different option for a car service– it offered speed, service and more comfort. It introduced surge pricing– similar to when hotels are priced higher when making a reservation during the peek season, the Uber ride would be more expensive or less depending on the time of the day.

Services like Uber and Beautified (same -day spa appointment app) prove that there is a segment of consumers who would pay extra for more service or convenience. But, why hasn't it taken so long for the food industry to mimic this concept?  Sure, some restaurants will offer a more expensive meal package on Valentine's day, but surge pricing has yet to hit the restaurant industry like it did for hotels and transportation. 

However, on the forefront of this evolution of these types of services for the restaurant industry is I Know the Chef, an app and website that allows the user to book prime-time reservations at the hottest restaurants. This member-only app is available currently in NYC, Chicago and Miami. 

The Consumer Experience

This service fuzes the old fashion values of hospitality, while appealing to the tech lovin' consumer. For example, it's Saturday night and a guest and some friends decide to go out for impromptu dinner in NYC. But, it is already 6:30 pm and they don't want to just go anywhere, they want something special for the more sophisticated palette. Luckily, one of the guests is a member of I Know the Chef. Now the fact that all the hottest restaurants are booked doesn't even matter. 

So what is the price for this VIP services? The user is able to pick from four different memberships- Trial for 10 days ($19) with unlimited reservations, Quarterly ($70) for 90 days with unlimited reservations and access to private events, Annual ($250) for an entire year with unlimited reservations and access to private events, and Elite Annual ($500) with unlimited reservations, early event access, your elite status gets known to restaurant, priority on wait-lists, a VIP reservation manager, and a complimentary bottle of wine that has a long wait-list.  

The Appeal for Restaurants

To appear on the app as a restaurant, the restaurant has to be reviewed and accepted. The users are pro-foodies, diners who are more passionate about food and dining experiences and are willing to invest in them. This is a demographic that you want your restaurant to be introduced to.

But the success of an app like this all depends on the consumers, will enough consumers see this as a service that they want and will become a part of their life? Will restaurants decide to develop memberships like this for their regular loyal customers? Regardless– this app is gaining momentum and could become the Uber of the restaurant industry.