Yesterday we noted Eater's seeming obsession with the reservations-scalping service PrimeTimeTables, which will sell you a reservation to a hard-to-get-into restaurant. But one question that's remained unanswered is just how PTT gets all those reservations (presumably not by opening dozens of OpenTable accounts, either). Today a tipster reports that the roots of PTT might run deeper into the city's food media world than previously assumed:
I'm told that a former Eat Out writer at Time Out was fired for working for the service on the side. She was calling up restaurants and scoring reservations by telling them she was from Time Out. Then, that reservation would subsequently be sold through the service to fat-cat diners, and the writer would pocket money.
Heather Tierney, food writer and restaurant critic for Time Out New York magazine during 2002-06, has started Sorted, a dining concierge service that offers advice on where to eat and what to order at Nobu and hundreds of restaurants. She'll book restaurants and design evenings for her clients.
``There's a restaurant for every occasion or need and I want to help people find it and book it,'' Tierney wrote in an e-mail.
Food writers are always hit on by friends and strangers for advice. In her memoir, former New York Times restaurant critic Ruth Reichl remembered fielding phone calls from Mike Nichols, Warren Christopher and Gregory Peck for New York dining advice. Tierney is charging subscribers $2,500 a year for telephone and e-mail access.
Seriously, it's been impossible for us to get our regular table at Nobu lately.
Update: Heather Tierney responds: "I am in no way related to Prime Time Tables, nor is my company, Sorted. I did work at Time Out for four years and left to start my own dining concierge business, but was never fired for working for PPT. The idea of making "false" reservations and selling them actually goes against everything Sorted stands for. My business is built on relationships that I have built over the years with restaurant owners, chefs, maitre' d and reservationists, and these people have not only become business contacts, but friends of mine. And I would never want to build a business on deception."