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What's It Worth To You?

What's It Worth To You?

Every so often a new trend will pop up in the restaurant game. In both Salt Lake City and in Denver the new trend is "pay-as-you-can." Yep that's right. You walk in, you order, you eat and when the bill arrives, you pay what you can, or what you think it's worth. Think of it as the "Robin Hood" method of dining. If you're rich, maybe you want to pay more so the less fortunate can eat the same thing as you. To learn more about this new trend,

The One World Cafe, in Salt Lake City, lacks a set menu and set prices. They do, however offer daily selections using seasonal and mostly organic ingredients. There are no prices, but there is a donation box where customers can pay what they felt their meal was worth.

The cafés' business models have won fans among the city's well-to-do residents, many of whom regularly dine there. At One World, patrons have given Cerreta [the owner] a car, bought new dishes, arranged to professionally clean her carpets, supplied new tile for the restaurant bathrooms, and donated property for an organic garden and funded a new irrigation system for it.

Inspired by the One World Cafe, Brad and Libby Birky opened up a similar operation in Denver called SAME (So All May Eat) Café. Now both One World and SAME have created non-profit groups to help others replicate similar cafes.

However, this new non-pricing method isn't working for everyone. In New York's Babu (an Indian restaurant) the pay-as-you-feel-fair method is resulting in too many free meals.

One Friday night, a rowdy group of 10 young Indians walked in and took over the restaurant's large central table. Their response to no prices was to leave no money; not even a tip for the wait staff. Babu now states their prices.

What do you think about this pricing scheme? Is it too good to be true or do you think it could work?


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katwo katwo 10 years
I've read about a restaurant in England with the same concept, but there I think it's out to test if the culinary skills of the chefs were good enough to get people to pay a certain amount. However, i love these restaurant's concept of what truly is a shared meal. It's truly passionate and imparts a message of what eating can bring together.
a-nonny-mouse a-nonny-mouse 10 years
It might work well in some communities, but would be a disaster in others. I'd love to go there; it's a refreshing concept. (I don't know that it would sustain the business, as far as meeting its financial needs, long-term.) I hope it lasts. I hope people do not take advantage of the business owner's progressive tactics and concern for community well-being. Bravo for them!
rubialala rubialala 10 years
It is a nice concept, and nice people would follow the rules, but there are yucky people out there who would take advantage and I think there are more yucky people than nice people so I think these restaurants will go out of business.
crispet1 crispet1 10 years
In theory, its great. But as you read the story, you see that the overwhelming potential for this concept to backfire sours the good deeds of others.
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