Serial reservation scalper targets NYC’s best restaurants

2 weeks ago 41

Taylor Swift seats aren’t the only tickets being resold at a premium by less-than-scrupulous hustlers.

Reservations at Yoshino, a 10-seat Michelin-starred sushi bar on the Bowery, are being scalped for nearly $700 apiece, per a representative for the restaurant.

To enjoy sushi master Tadashi Yoshida’s renowned omakase, diners must book on the Tock platform and pay a $500 per person deposit.

The actual meal, including tax and service but not drinks, costs $646 per person.

According to correspondence viewed by The Post between Yoshino general manager Mayumi Kobayashi and representatives from Tock, the restaurant was tipped off by a regular customer.

Reservations at Yoshino require a $500 deposit. Reservations at Yoshino require a $500 deposit. Helayne Seidman

Reportedly, reservations — which are currently booked a month out — were being sold in a closed group called Little Red Book on a Chinese version of Twitter, by someone using the name Winters Wang, among other aliases.

“He is tacking on another $180 per seat,” Kobayashi wrote to Tock, alerting the company of the issue. “Looks like he is making quite a killing hawking reservations.”

With the whistleblower’s help, Kobayashi was able to obtain screenshots from the closed group, which revealed Wang’s methods — not to mention the fact that he has supposedly been scalping seats at other top NYC restaurants like Le Bernardin, Nakaji and Kappo Sono.

The scalper appears to be using a string of names, log-ins and email addresses — but in enough cases, the same exact credit card, which made the against-the-rules act easier to spot.

The depth of the problem became apparent last month, when Kobayashi sent an email to Wang, letting him know that it was against restaurant policy to transfer a reservation, after it was revealed that another party was dining under his name.

Yoshino, a high end sushi bar has fallen victim to a reservation scalper, the general manager alleges.Yoshino, a high end sushi bar has fallen victim to a reservation scalper, the general manager alleges.Evan Sung

A lengthy email from Wang, written in broken English, blamed confusion which “happened personally between me and my friend,” but then went on to chastise the restaurant, offering “a small advice” to allow diners to pass reservations on to others.

(Wang did not respond to The Post for comment.)

Because Kobayashi was able to gain access to the private group where the resales were taking place, she was able to go to Tock with the evidence she needed to get scores of bookings made by Wang cancelled. Resale of reservations is a violation of the site’s terms of service.

Yoshino is concerned that other high end restaurants are being scalped as well.Yoshino is concerned that other high end restaurants are being scalped as well.Helayne Seidman

In response to the frustrating scenario, Tock director of marketing Marisa Mulh told The Post “although not specifically related to Yoshino, we are aware that this happens and highly discourage it.”

“Reservation resale hinders [a restaurant’s] ability to leverage guest preferences which is central to the experiences they are offering,” she said.

Beyond that, it also does an extreme disservice to customers, according to Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance.

“If you have scalpers out there that are snagging up reservations, [that] makes it more difficult for the everyday person to get [in],” Rigie told The Post. “It makes restaurants, especially hot restaurants, even less accessible.”

Kobayashi and the Yoshino team, who declined to comment for this article, are considering legal action.

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