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Restaurant Gimmicks

Would You Trust Customers to Pay Their Fair Share?

Some restaurants have been trying something new with the way they're compensated for feeding customers. Instead of presenting you with menus that could tempt you to spend more than you intended, they're asking you to come up with the price yourself.

Once you've decided on what you think is a reasonable price for what you've consumed, you pay by placing money in a closed box so nobody knows exactly what you've settled on as a fair price except for you. Obviously the owners of these pay-what-you-like joints are earning enough to stay in business, and I'm sure that some customers overpay while others take advantage and skimp on the "bill."


Join The Conversation
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I definitely think most people would take advantage of that. If you could name your own price and the manager would agree on it and then you paid the regular way it would work out to the same deal for the customers who would be honest. You'd still get a deal and the restaurant would still make a profit.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
Maybe most people will assume everyone underpays, and then overpay! ;-)
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Hmmm this is weird. I can imagine more people would under pay then over pay. At least in my opinion...
Tashablueyes Tashablueyes 9 years
Maybe they should just charge a fair price for the food, pay their staff themselves, and then use the box for tips.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
what a bad idea! most people dont comprehend what the cost of food is, and the "old timers" even less! I always have to hear "remember when a steak dinner cost......"
Kelly-O Kelly-O 9 years
And like tiff said, there is more than just the actual cost of the food. They have to pay power, water, and sewer bills. There are business licenses they have to maintain. Staff needs to be paid. Rent has to be paid. Supplies, ranging from forks, spoons, and napkins, to the kitchen equipment, and then the computer in the office. None of that pays for itself. So even though you might be a foodie who recognizes that a certain menu item's ingredients make $15 a fair price, you're not taking all the other things into consideration. That to me is just not good for the business. Plus can you imagine the liquor issue? I admit sometimes I forget about how much certain liquors cost until I get to a restuarant to order. It might work in some areas, particularly with a "suggested amount" listing, but it could really backfire and mess up a restaurant. If it was me and my personal business, there is no way I'd take that risk.
mlen mlen 9 years
its an interesting theory- and i think duck duck goose makes some good points. i think a suggested list of donations is good and i think paying per quality is good. actually you know what would be interesting is if the restaurants had 3 prices for every entree. a below average, average, and above average based on quality. if your food was awesome- you'd pay the high one- if you thought it was ok you pay average and if you thought it sucked, you pay low. restaurants could learn a lot and customers would feel like they go thte value they paid for!
ALSW ALSW 9 years
I'm not sure how successful this could be either. I'm not sure that I'd have any concept what to pay for some dishes. I mean, some places a hamburger is $5 and other places it's closer to $10. I think I'd always be over or underpaying and feeling guilty.
tiff58 tiff58 9 years
I don't see how it could work. Most businesses have at least one position with a trained person figuring out what the correct price should be, based on expected business, overhead, etc...I don't see how someone just eating there for the night could possibly figure out the right price to pay.
princessjaslew princessjaslew 9 years
so even if the service was good but the cook sucked, you would get stiffed on your tips? dang, that sucks!
j0j0y j0j0y 9 years
princessjaslew- I've worked in a couple restaurants (mostly sushi) and usually a portion of the server's tips go straight to the kitchen. At the place I'm at now, it's 50%, which is pretty darn high for the business but I'm seeing it more often. I wonder if it'd be be a good or bad thing if customers knew about that...
juicylove juicylove 9 years
i can just see like. people donating $1 for like a steak or something. not saying everyone would do that. but just to eat a cheap meal. i think i would probably just have no idea what to pay. i dont think its a good idea.
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
I would over-pay because I have no idea how much it would be worth. I don't know where they got their ingredients or how difficult my meal was to prepare. I would feel guilty for under-paying and compensate. I would never eat there again. I know people who would most certainly under-pay and want to eat there all the time. For some, it's all about a good deal for them, not what's fair or right.
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 9 years
We eagerly purchased the new Radiohead release and cheerfully paid what we thought seemed a fair price. (I cannot remember if we paid ten or fifteen, or an amount inbetween.) We were thrilled with their method and message, and were very happy to support them. (Plus, we happen to love Radiohead.) A couple thoughts -- I'd happily support a (restaurant) business that operated in this manner, but I would have serious anxiety trying to guess the relative worth of each meal. It's a clever idea to print "suggested donations" with each dish offered. I would **love** to be able to pay based on the quality of food served. I'm disenchanted with many restaurants because the food served is often sub-par, or very inconsistent at best. This would be an effective way to send a clear message: we will not continue paying full price for meals that are very mediocre, or worse. I'd like the option of paying only for the food I want, in the portion I request. I often do not want any of the side dishes that come as part of a meal package; I just want the one item and would prefer not to pay for the (inclusive) side items that I ask the wait-staff to leave off the plate anyway.
terryt18 terryt18 9 years
I'd eat like a King and stiff 'em all.
Taadie Taadie 9 years
i think it would work if all the meals are fairly common. i wouldnt put chilean sea bass on the menu but everyone knows how much bacon and eggs or chicken penne or a burger and fries cost.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
Are any of these restaurants in the San Diego area? ;)
Berlin Berlin 9 years
This is kind of how that new album for Radiohead, where they allowed the customer's to choose whatever price they felt deserved for the CD. It turns out, no one really payed what it originally would have been worth save for a few, majority fell within the reasonable $10 range, and others fell around a buck or 2. If this is in a nice restaurant, it probably would do well b/c those patrons are respectable and know what the value is. A regular grill type would have the dodgy ones who wouldn't want to pay what it's worth, or the school brats that would just toss in a few bucks. Same with tipping..some don't believe in it, others tip well, some just a bare it's unlikely that it would work well.
cubadog cubadog 9 years
I have many friends that own their own restaurants and unless your a foodie I do not think the general public really has a concept of how much would be a fair price to pay. Sorry if that is insulting to anyone but it is my opinion. I just do not see this working at all!
princessjaslew princessjaslew 9 years
i agree with misswills. having a suggested donation doesn't neccessarily mean that everyone will pay the fair price. but it does mean that people will know how much they should pay. its kinda like tipping the cook! haven't you thought about how totally unfair it is that we only tip waiters, but never the people who actually make the food?
girlgreen girlgreen 9 years
i don't see how this could be successful..
remedios remedios 9 years
The Radiohead model for eating out? Of course there will be some that don't pay at all, and then folks that will overpay. Nah, for me, I'd probably end up paying too much because I wouldn't want to pay too little so would compensate just to be sure. So basically I'd be giving the moocher a free ride. No thanks, let's just have fair prices on the menu.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
I could see some people doing it...but honestly. How many times have you eaten at a nice resturant and recived a meal that you thoguht for sure was WAY LESS then the price on the menu? I have millions of times! I get a $45 meal of steak and the steak is usualyl overcooked with fat on it! And in my opinion, I could make a betetr one for WAY less!
randomname12345 randomname12345 9 years
This system might work better if there was a list of suggested donations next to the donation box. That might help people to give amounts closer to what it cost to produce the dishes.
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