Ko insanity

So, Pudge has been trying to get reservations at a restaurant called Momofuku Ko for a really long time. From what I can tell, Ko is a fine place for food, charging somewhere around $100 a head for a fixed menu. However, it has catapulted itself into the position of being perhaps the most difficult restaurant to eat at in NYC for two simple reasons:

1. There are a limited number of seats and seatings per night
2. All reservations are done on-line, with absolutely no preferential treatment at all.

In order to prevent scalping, the restaurant forces you to enter your credit card information and verifies that you are exactly who you say you are when you get to the restaurant. So, essentially what you have here is a reservation system that is extremely accessible, paired with a lack of supply.

Now, a lot of people have been wondering what would happen if you were to convert the reservation system into an auction system. Here's what happened at a recent auction, where a seat at Ko was offered up for charity:

It started quietly: at the end of the first day, the top bid was $175. Day two saw the price rise to $245, where it stayed for four more days. On day six it went up to $275, and then on day ten it hit $315: still less than the retail price for the dinner alone. On day 13, when the auction was blogged by Eater, the bidding went a little crazy, ending at $700. A bidder named "kyanza" dropped out at $650, but reappeared on day 14 and started bidding the price up again: by the end of day 14 kyanza had the high bid of $1,250 - which would value the reservation at $865.

But the auction still had three more days to go. On day 15, kyanza was still the high bidder, at $1,501. On day 16, "srittvo" came in with a bid $20 higher, but everybody knew that there would be more activity on day 17, the final day.

The auction was due to close at 4pm, but there was a twist: it was extended by five minutes every time somebody made a new high bid. Thus were there no fewer than 24 bids between 3:55pm and 4:12pm. At 3:50pm, the high bid, from kyanza, was $1,870. By the time the auction ended, kynza was still the winner, but the final price was exactly a thousand dollars higher: $2,870. Which would put the value of the reservation at about $2,500.

That's an expensive table.

Hat tip to Felix Salmon.

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