Today, the San Francisco based Allset announces the Seattle expansion of a program it already has going in San Francisco, Palo Alto, New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Austin. It’s a reservation and pre-ordering service that lets you book a restaurant table, order your meal, and pay for it in advance—allowing you to just show up and chew.
Starting with 50 participating restaurants in the Bay Area, Allset launched in Manhattan and Brooklyn last year with 40 choices, lunch only. Seattle will launch with 16 and counting; mostly Italian, Mexican, Indian, and Chinese spots scattered through the neighborhoods and downtown. Two notables are Nue and Dueminuti Healthy Pasta, both on Capitol Hill.
Unfortunately, helping you find a parking place is not among Allset’s charms.
What’s in it for the restaurant is clear: They get to increase table turnover, saying it reduces average dining time by half, and reach the busiest diners by essentially turning their restaurant into a fast-food spot. They also produce meals for Allset orders off a narrowed menu of choices. And for a certain kind of a diner, one who wants to squeeze every last drop of juice from the workday by eliminating the wait for a table and the bill and the pesky survey of a long menu, it makes sense. (Allset is not available for takeout orders.)
For those throwbacks who want dining to remain an experience, however? Allset may not be their jam.