Gastronomy News

Michael Wankerl, The Chef Who Makes You Pay The Bill Upon Reservation: "Here Are The Reasons."

Serena Curto
copertina michael wanckerl

In Chef Michael Wankerl's restaurant "Gerüchteküche," customers must pay at the time of booking, just like at the movies. Let's explore the reasons behind this choice.

The news

Due to the many challenges facing the industry today – no-shows, staff shortages, and price increases – many chefs have had to think about how to counter these issues and protect themselves. Some restaurateurs see the future in "no-show fees," compensation in case of absence. It's a growing phenomenon abroad; for example, a restaurant in Vienna charges a "compensation" fee of 36 euros, while one in Mallorca goes up to 120 euros.

michael wankerl ORF Satel Film Claus Muhr
@ORF-Satel Film-Claus Muhr

This is also what the famous and award-winning Chef Michael Wankerl has done. However, he stated that in his restaurant, Gerüchteküche in Graz, customers will have to pay for dinner at the time of booking, using a ticketing system. It's an experience similar to a concert or a theater visit, as explained in a Rolling Pin article.

Wankerl Geruechtekueche

Those who want to taste his seasonal culinary delights must first purchase a ticket online for a specific date. This allows for booking and paying in advance, with a very precise time constraint: everyone dines at 6:30 pm without exceptions, according to the website. Since Wankerl's menu is a surprise (leaving complete freedom to the chef's imagination), there is no need to choose a dish in advance, only the accompanying wine. But what prompted Michael Wankerl to make this decision?

Wankerl Geruechtekueche piatto

"More respect for the product and the work behind it. This way, the evening can be planned better, as is the case with hotel reservations," he says. The Gerüchteküche chef sees only positive aspects in the initiative, especially because it reduces waiting times for ordered food and addresses issues arising from canceled reservations, food waste, working hours, and production costs.

michael wankerl Jurgen Fuchs 2
@Jurgen Fuchs

It is, therefore, a well-established reservation and protection system that has been successful since its "invention" in 2015. The creator of this "pre-sale" system was the American restaurateur Nick Kokonas, who earned three Michelin stars with chef and partner Grant Achatz at the helm of Alinea restaurant in Chicago.

michael wankerl Jurgen Fuchs
@Jurgen Fuchs

In 2015, Nick Kokonas had unwittingly discovered the consequences of customers not showing up despite reservations, resulting in significant losses of around $218.000. This led him to launch a pre-paid ticket system where guests had to choose the table, day, time, and pay for their menu in advance.

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