CHICAGO: Fans of the Chicago Cubs wait to enter Wrigley Field before the Opening Day game between the Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers on Opening Day at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illininois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
As a Chicago restaurant mimics the Chicago Cubs, we consider how the rest of the city can learn from the Cubs' example.
Mock and scoff the Chicago Cubs, if you must. Taunt them for their hundred years' bore. Giggle when Jim Hendry suggests 2012 just needs a bit more veteran-y goodness. Wonder aloud if the Ricketts clan's family crest proudly proclaims their affection for Newton's first law. Go on.
Then read this from the Gray Lady this week:
It is not easy to eat at (Chicago eatery) Next. The restaurant has only 62 seats and no phone number: (part-owner) Mr. Kokonas has designed the business so that the tickets are sold only through the Web site, nextrestaurant.com, where they are generally snatched up the moment they are released....
There are no slow nights at Next, as every seat has been sold in advance, and thus no issues of cash flow. Tickets are nonrefundable, just as at the opera or the ballpark....
(Chef) Mr. Achatz said in a telephone interview that diners are increasingly using the restaurant’s Web site to sell tickets at face value, helped in part by a "transfer tickets" tool.
Recognize that? It's the dining equivalent of Wrigley Field Premium Tickets, the pioneering combination of corporation and government intervention that allowed the Chicago Cubs to become the official scalpers of the Chicago Cubs. Of course, the restaurant has apparently booted the ball by not charging a ticket transfer fee, but I can't confirm that as I haven't signed up.
However, this is but a stumbling first step into the light of creating a secondary market for trendy restaurants solely to absorb the restaurant heat in the form of cash. Congratulations to Next for utilizing its friends Back and Submit to capture cost certainty in a bottle and then serving the bottle at a ridiculous markup, just like the Cubs.
This proves without a doubt that the Cubs are still relevant in business and in Chicago if not so much in baseball. What else, then, can Chicagoans glean from the Cubs' business methods that they can apply to their own spheres of influence? Why, the list is inevitable:
- Invest $250 million in renovations to Millennium Park to add bathrooms that don't have the little crescent moon carved on the front door as well as installing 15 new benches, 36 beer stands, and a statue of Ronnie Woo Woo. (Or, you know, the actual Ronnie Woo Woo painted bronze.) To pay for it, sigh heavily every time the price comes up and suggest the state needs to pay for it or else Grant Park will be paved overnight to create Meigs Field.
- Head over to Hot Doug's and ask for 500 Norm Crosbys. When the bill comes, insist Doug Sohn buy the dogs for you using his credit line and by taxing all the other patrons an extra 1% until it's paid off. If he balks, threaten to sue him until he caves.
- Stop rebuilding the Congress Parkway Bridge, for cryin' out loud. Successful cities don't rebuild. Just jam a couple veteran overpasses in there and wait for the success to roll over it.
- We're still doing a great job of giving anyone from Notre Dame showing a glimmer of skill insane salaries. Keep it up.
- To honor the contributions of the Daley clan to the history of Chicago, invite a lesser celebrity every day to City Hall to stretch out in the mayor's chair for a few minutes and then select an alderman whose career should be buried. This should continue well past the time we run out of aldermen and people wonder why it's still happening.
- Finally, let's vote Alfonso Soriano into a judge's slot in Cook County. If he's going to become increasingly immobile at an impressive salary in a job that's basically his for life, let's clear the Cook County dockets while we're at it. We can always install the Ronnie Woo Woo statue in left.
Scoff'n'mock if you will, but I've seen what's Next and it's... well, it's a bit depressing. It's a shame no one's opened up a beer garden big enough to hold all those depressed Cubs fans. Hell, I bet the secondary market for tickets to get in there would be fantastic.