We know that Nick Kokonas is always thinking about how to improve the Next ticketing system. We also know that demand is always so great that it crashes the ticketing system anyway. So for the menus running through the rest of the year— three of them, running a little more than three months each, with time to work on the next one in between— he's devised a system within a system, that should keep it from melting the space-time continuum this time. Maybe. Oh, and he also reveals the pricing and the third theme (Kyoto— that's been mentioned before as one they were thinking about, but we think this is the first time it's been nailed down as a theme for this year). Here's how it's going to work this time.
El Bulli will run February 8 through May 27, almost four months; Sicily will run June 2 through September 9, and Kyoto September 15 through December 31. Sicily and Kyoto will range from $85 to $110 per person depending on the day of the week, plus pairings from $48 to $90; the kitchen table will be $165 with $110 for the beverage pairing. El Bulli, on the other hand, will be a much more involved meal (29 courses) at $365 for both food and beverage, which puts it fairly close to Alinea's range. (One could argue that given that it's even more involved as a meal than dinner at Alinea, it's still fulfilling Next's mission to be more accessible than Alinea, at least on a per-course basis.)
Here's how Kokonas describes the buying process this time:
We have created a ‘waiting room’ upon entering the season ticket sales web page. A maximum of 50 people will be allowed to select a ticket package at a time. If the ticket sales room is full, you will enter an email address and will be notified by email when you may enter the room. CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDER. Once that email is sent you will have one hour to complete the transaction. Please note that hitting ‘refresh’ or generating more than one email will move you to the back of the line.
At this point all you're doing is picking a day of the week and a table size; then the system will offer you three possible dates meeting those criteria. You select from those and complete your transaction. The idea seems to be to space people out along the process, rather than have them all clicking to buy at the same time and bringing the system down.
The 50 tickets sold each night this way will account for most of the El Bulli seats, but a few others will be offered each night via the Next Facebook page, and individual tickets for Sicily and Kyoto will be offered later on (since they have more capacity than El Bulli, which only accommodates one seating a night). There will also, as reported earlier, be a single two-top each night auctioned off with full proceeds going to the University of Chicago Cancer Center.
In a followup post, Kokonas notes that since the kitchen table usually includes extra courses (hence the higher price), but El Bulli's is $365 regardless, he's been asked whether there will be extras for that this time. A little incredulously, he responds: "It's the same meal exactly -- and same price. Do you need more than 29 courses?" [Next/Facebook]