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_john

Restaurants without prices

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Open price. Suggested price. Donation based. Pay what you want. Pay what you think it is worth.

I am really intrigued with this idea. What do you think about the idea from the perspective of the owner and customers? Is there a successful model? Is it just an annoying trend?

I live in Japan. A menu with no prices certainly does not mean pay what you want. You better be willing to pay anything for the experience (at least once :wink: ). but that's another topic...

some links:

Pay-What-You-Want Has Patrons Perplexed

Pay What You Want Cafe ("suggested price" example)

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I think it would make me antsy and detract from the experience - wondering what to pay, what should I consider, what to compare to and those sorts of head trips. We were a bit uncomfortable the other day when we were comped an expensive appetizer- figure into total for the tip, yes, no....

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I think that there is probably a sweet spot between expensive and cheap. For example if you pay what you want for a doughnut the difference between 50¢ and 75¢ is large. The difference between $150 and $160 for a meal seems to be less significant.

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I would be bad at this, I think I would just worry and end up paying a lot, even if I thought the meal was bad.

Something similar happened to me at a charity fete once. A lady was doing Indian head massage and basically just asking people to pay what they wanted. I love a nice massage, so I decided to try it. As the massage progressed, it became clear that she wasn't a trained masseuse or anything, she had just read a few books. That might have still been ok, but actually it was pretty bad! However, she was so nice and I was so embarassed, I ended up paying quite a lot, even though I went a way with a very achey head!

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Somehow the 'Lentil as Anything' chain have kept going in Melbourne for a few years. I suspect it's largely because they're tied to some charity that saves ... someone, somewhere and a lot of their staff are volunteers. And that, too, I hear tell that starving students who live off their food for years come back later on and donate a considerable amount.

I admit I haven't been to any of the branches, even tho' Lentil as Anything is something of an institution and, so far as I know, the only restaurant (well, chain of restaurants) in the city that has such a pricing model. What turns me off, actually, is that I keep hearing of people who go there and get given the, er, subtle hint that $x is really not enough. If $x really isn't enough--and I can see why it might not be, in the practical sense--why not charge a fixed amount? Keep it cheap and maybe continue to help out the local homeless or whatever, but you have no grounds for people not paying more than $whatever if you advertise that people can 'pay whatever they feel like.' Maybe set the price at, I don't know, $7 for the lentil curry--enough to cover overheads and maybe put a couple of dollars into the collection plate--and encourage diners to drop spare coins into a collection plate. I'd visit a restaurant like that. I like to go to nice restaurants and pay nice restaurant prices. I wouldn't have an issue putting down, say, $20 on a couple of vegetarian curries and throwing some coins into a box--that's about what I'd pay at one of the local curry joints--but what I do have an issue with is this attitude of, 'You can pay whatever you feel like ... so long as we feel like it too, right? We're busy saving hungry homeless African whales in the isolated jungles of Brazil, you know. We do charitable shit.' Maybe spending too much time dodging the Socialist Alliance types at university hardened me to that sort of thing, turned me into a twisted cynic.

I get the hippy, save-the-world-with-your-hair-in-dreadlocks-and-a-vegan-diet appeal. I get that. I can see a pay-as-you-feel restaurant surviving off that if the restaurant runs as a not-for-profit organisation, donating cash to homeless people or whales. I don't see it working as an actual for-profit business model. Not at all. I haven't encountered restaurants like this aside from LaA, but I suspect most of the restaurants have a charitable hippy bent.


Edited by ChrisTaylor (log)

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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As a profitable business model, I would have to agree. Zero predictable cash flow and no way to cover sg&a.

But, in a perfect world...


A vision without action is a Daydream; Action without vision is a Nightmare.

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If you get the opportunity to experience this, DO IT.

You won't get another chance until another one opens up

close to the one that just bent belly up.

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Wow. I wish we have those kinds of restaurants here in my part of the world.

But I am not sure if that idea is good. I am not even sure if they will profit more than what they invested?

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