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An Ivy League Sophomore Says He Found a $105,000 Side Hustle: Selling Coveted Restaurant Reservations Reservation selling has become a lucrative side hustle, but some restaurants and chefs are starting to fight back.

By Geoff Weiss

Key Takeaways

  • Brown sophomore Alex Eisler has a lucrative side hustle selling restaurant reservations.
  • He vends them on nascent platform Appointment Trader.
  • Eisler told BI his most expensive sale was $1,358 for an omakase reservation in Boston.
Alex Eisler Courtesy of Alex Eisler via Business Insider

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Need more proof that the scalper and bot-fueled restaurant reservation-selling ecosystem has intensified to new heights?

Brown University student Alex Eisler has generated $105,000 in reservation sales since November 2022, when he joined Appointment Trader — an online marketplace that allows users to buy and sell restaurant reservations using an auction model.

Eisler — a sophomore studying applied math and computer science — told Business Insider he's always been a foodie, and first stumbled upon Appointment Trader while purchasing a reservation of his own at NYC steakhouse 4 Charles Prime Rib.

He then attempted to sell a few reservations on the platform procured through American Express-owned Resy and by calling restaurants personally. He had mixed success, he said, whereupon he said he started playing around with code and developed a bot to automate the process.

Eisler told Business Insider the most expensive reservation he's ever sold was $1,358 at an omakase restaurant in Boston. Business Insider verified the approved bid with a screenshot he provided. In New York City, he also recently banked $850 for a lunch table at Maison Close and $1,050 for a spot at Carbone, The New Yorker reported.

"It has never really been about the money for me," Eisler told BI. "I just wanted to bring supply and demand together."

It's worth noting that the $105,000 figure raked in was before Appointment Trader takes its fees, ranging from 20% to 30%, according to The New Yorker, which first covered Eisler's side hustle and the increasingly elusive task of going out to eat. He told the outlet he pocketed $70,000 last year.

Appointment Trader is just one platform helping to turn reservation-selling into a cottage industry of sorts.

Members-only platform Dorsia is another — but operates on a completely different business model, working in tandem with top restaurants to offer reservations in exchange for a guaranteed minimum spend.

Business Insider's Linette Lopez previously reported on New York's freshly gilded dining scene, with the emergence of apps like Resy gamifying the reservation experience and pitting elite diners against their more tech-savvy counterparts, who are hacking the system with bots.

That said, some restaurant owners are perturbed by how the space is evolving.

Bloomberg reported in October that sites like Resy and Tock — as well as the restaurants that they service — are attempting to crack down on bots by deactivating reseller accounts and creating teams dedicated to fraud.

The New Yorker noted bots and resellers prevent restaurants from collecting valuable customer data.

"It's bad for business," Eric Ripert, chef and co-owner of famed French seafood restaurant Le Bernardin, told The New Yorker. "Every day, we spend hours trying to track down the bots and the fake reservations … If you have tables that are no-shows, the profit of the night is done."

Geoff Weiss

Former Staff Writer

Geoff Weiss is a former staff writer at Entrepreneur.com.

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