Nick Kokonas is a former derivatives-trader-turned-restaurateur whose latest venture, Tock, offers a ticket pricing system that allows diners to prepay for meals.
Kokonos created the ticketing software for Alinea and Next — Chicago restaurants that he co-owns with chef Grant Achatz. Patrons can preorder meals the way they would order tickets to a theater performance or book tickets for a flight.
The Aviary, another eatery co-owned by Kokonas, will adopt the online platform followed by about 20 other restaurants scheduled to sign up soon after.
Naysayers warned Kokonos that diners would not want to prepay for their meals, but he collected data that showed prepaid tickets increased revenue and wiped out no-shows at Alinea. But selling the idea was a slow process, he told Blue Sky.
“Nobody wanted anything to do with it, which is really the hallmark of a good idea in retrospect,” Kokonas said.
Kokonas, who grew up in Chicago’s northern suburbs, began his career in options trading and founded his first firm — Third Moment Trading — in 1992. In 2005, he and Achatz launched Alinea, one of the country’s top-ranked restaurants.
Kokonas lives in Chicago with his wife, Dagmara, and their two sons.