Dinner Lab, billed “the most exclusive new dining experience in town” in a recent NY Post article, is a members-only dining club started three years ago in New Orleans by 28-year-old Brian Bordainick.
How does Dinner Lab work? The culinary club’s New York memberships became available in late August, and they sold out in less that 48 hours. The membership requires a startling $175-per-year fee, which doesn’t include the costs of individual dinners, which can range from $40 to more than $100, booze and tip included. According to Bordainick, there are nearly 5,000 people on the wait list.
Now get this: the hefty $175-per-year Dinner Lab membership fee doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a seat at the dinners. “Spots at the first three dinners, the second of which is happening tonight at a secret downtown location (Bordainick fears city officials would shut it down if they were to find out), were filled within four minutes,” reports The NY Post.
“‘I’ve just been very prompt,’ says member Colleen Chia of nabbing her place at last week’s event. ‘I pretty much stopped everything at 3:57 p.m. [just before seats went up for grabs]. I was constantly refreshing my browser.’” That’s a huge time commitment for a dinner you’ve already paid $175 for and might not even be permitted to go to.
Another amusing part of the NY Post’s Dinner Lab exposé is members’ expectations of the secret events:
Bordainick admits that Thursday’s event, which was overrun by couples in their 30s and a smattering of 40- and 50-somethings, took him by surprise.
“I thought it was going to be like all 21- to 24-year-old hipsters running around,” he admits, adding that the flash-sale aspect of Dinner Lab can make it difficult for young, creative types to partake.
“I’ve gotten a few angry hipster e-mails, for sure. They’re like, ‘You know, when I’m bartending, I can’t get back to the computer in time.’ Which I totally understand.”
Bordainick has obviously convinced his members—or those people trying to get a membership—that Dinner Lab is a “cool,” “exclusive,” “hip” dining experience, one in which they should desperately want to be a part. But in reality, these dinners are filled with not young, alternative “hipsters,” but wealthy hedge-funder types who can afford the high membership and dinner fee.
Hedge-funder Payson Holm was there with an equally preppy finance friend. Both were scoping out the club before bringing any lady love interests to the table
He and his (single) tablemates, whom he’d never met before, chatted about their theoretical wedding plans and their distaste for the small plastic wine cups provided at the dinner — no Riedel glassware here.
But the enchantment with Bordainick’s ultra-exclusive dinners continues: “‘You have to go through this abandoned mall to get to this unique, beautiful place. It’s like you walk down a dark alley . . . in the middle of nowhere, and you come across some awesome restaurant,’ says Nicole Rock, 28, who was enjoying the meal with a colleague. ‘It’s kind of raw.’”
The basics of psychology tell us that exclusivity and FOMO make us buy things, which is exactly why there are 5,000 people on the Dinner Lab wait list. Bordainick’s business model is one that truly works.
[via The NY Post]