A man walks into a bar…then pays what he wants

By Johnny Daniels
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

littlebayrestaurant

This is such a great idea and a great social experiment in other human beings where you trust them to do the right thing.

The Little Bay restaurant in London has decided to start a month long “pay what you want” deal where customers only pay whatever they think the food and drink was worth.  Nothing more.

In case you’re thinking that the owner is totally certifiable and the restaurant will be out of business by the end of that month, they’re only copying another establishment called the Berlin Weinerei (in Berlin obviously!) which has been doing the same thing for the past 10 years.

Food and drink are given to the customers, then at the end, the customers can decide how much to pay.  According to the Guardian article, some people pay as much as EUR 25 ($32) while others rip the place off by only leaving EUR 5 ($6.40).   So you’re not going to get rich with this business model, but you’re certainly going to get noticed by the customers and the media.

Do you think this kind of restaurant would work in your country?  Would people pay properly or would they just rip the place off?   Do you think this is an interesting social experiment or a silly business idea?

[Via The Guardian]

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30 Responses to A man walks into a bar…then pays what he wants

  1. There are a couple of restaurants just like that here in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
    Although people in Argentina are widely known for being asidous “cheaters”, the business is doing pretty well. They’ve been on business for 3 years know. So it’s either money laundry or people tend to do the right thing when “asked to”.

  2. It’s really an interesting experiment. I personally have never heard of such a thing, but I can tell you that it will not run on every country.
    I’ve seen people that doesn’t pay even with a bill in their hands, imagine what they can do without the check!!!
    I’d like to visit though, maybe the food is so good that you have just for the restaurant to stay there…

  3. As others have said, it won’t work in all countries. It depends on an ingrained sense of personal ethics, responsibility, and a desire to ‘do the right thing.’

    In the US, there are enough spoiled teens and GenYers, greedy, selfish mongrels, and gang-bangers, that in most large cities, they wouldn’t last the month.

    It might have a chance in smaller communities or situations where everyone feels more connected to everyone else; more aware of the consequences of their actions on everyone else.

    I wonder how the waitstaff at those places are paid?

  4. There are a couple of restaurants just like that here in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    Although people in Argentina are widely known for being asidous "cheaters", the business is doing pretty well. They've been on business for 3 years know. So it's either money laundry or people tend to do the right thing when "asked to".

  5. I think it would work in all countries, but it might not work well in every locale in all countries.

    I think you’re wrong about not getting rich with the idea though… depending on what you mean by rich. I think a restaurant could do just fine running the idea forever.

    For every customer that rips you off, you probably get two or three customers you wouldn’t have had at all.

  6. HAHA, as said above this would never work in any major US citys.

    Maybe in some small towns but never in big citys.

    Although I like the idea, odds are I would overpay often just because I like it!

  7. It's really an interesting experiment. I personally have never heard of such a thing, but I can tell you that it will not run on every country.

    I've seen people that doesn't pay even with a bill in their hands, imagine what they can do without the check!!!

    I'd like to visit though, maybe the food is so good that you have just for the restaurant to stay there…

  8. As others have said, it won't work in all countries. It depends on an ingrained sense of personal ethics, responsibility, and a desire to 'do the right thing.'

    In the US, there are enough spoiled teens and GenYers, greedy, selfish mongrels, and gang-bangers, that in most large cities, they wouldn't last the month.

    It might have a chance in smaller communities or situations where everyone feels more connected to everyone else; more aware of the consequences of their actions on everyone else.

    I wonder how the waitstaff at those places are paid?

  9. I think it would work in all countries, but it might not work well in every locale in all countries.

    I think you're wrong about not getting rich with the idea though… depending on what you mean by rich. I think a restaurant could do just fine running the idea forever.

    For every customer that rips you off, you probably get two or three customers you wouldn't have had at all.

  10. HAHA, as said above this would never work in any major US citys.

    Maybe in some small towns but never in big citys.

    Although I like the idea, odds are I would overpay often just because I like it!

  11. This wouldn’t work in small towns in the US because there’s no market for high end food and drink there – and there are just as many lowlifes and bored teens (if not more per capita) in small towns as in the metropolis.
    This is based on the premise that people in a place like this are hyper-conscious about not underpaying, and so will typically overpay. This will only work if the location and atmosphere attract the type of people whose perception of “fair market value” provides reasonable margins.

  12. This wouldn't work in small towns in the US because there's no market for high end food and drink there – and there are just as many lowlifes and bored teens (if not more per capita) in small towns as in the metropolis.

    This is based on the premise that people in a place like this are hyper-conscious about not underpaying, and so will typically overpay. This will only work if the location and atmosphere attract the type of people whose perception of "fair market value" provides reasonable margins.

  13. Actually, the owner of this restaurant is getting overpaid now he’s launched this new tactic.

    When I spoke to one of the waiters while visiting it myself,he told me that most people leave at least what the official pricelist used to be, so while there’s a few taking advantage, even more people are overpaying, which averages out to even greater profits than before.

    Mainly because the waiters actually have to work hard for their wage – sure, tips are usually optional in Britain anyway rather than being automatically added in, but think about it: if there is rubbish servicem, the customer wouldn’t pay much, and the waiters couldn’t even collect their regular wages either!

  14. Actually, the owner of this restaurant is getting overpaid now he's launched this new tactic.

    When I spoke to one of the waiters while visiting it myself,he told me that most people leave at least what the official pricelist used to be, so while there's a few taking advantage, even more people are overpaying, which averages out to even greater profits than before.

    Mainly because the waiters actually have to work hard for their wage – sure, tips are usually optional in Britain anyway rather than being automatically added in, but think about it: if there is rubbish servicem, the customer wouldn't pay much, and the waiters couldn't even collect their regular wages either!

  15. In London Waterloo they had a problem with newspaper theft, people would not queue for 5 mins for a 50p paper so were stealing them. They put an honesty box next to the paper stand and thefts dropped dramatically. Despite what the Daily Mail tells us, most people in this country want to be honest. While there may be some people who will take the place for a ride, social norms will dictate that people pay what is due or maybe a little more.
    Why do people tip? They don’t have to and logically it makes sense to not bother as you have already received the service and can’t be penalised for not tipping yet all but a sad minority tip at least ten percent.

  16. In London Waterloo they had a problem with newspaper theft, people would not queue for 5 mins for a 50p paper so were stealing them. They put an honesty box next to the paper stand and thefts dropped dramatically. Despite what the Daily Mail tells us, most people in this country want to be honest. While there may be some people who will take the place for a ride, social norms will dictate that people pay what is due or maybe a little more.

    Why do people tip? They don't have to and logically it makes sense to not bother as you have already received the service and can't be penalised for not tipping yet all but a sad minority tip at least ten percent.

  17. There was such restaurant opened in New Delhi, India sometime in 2007. The last I heard, they were enjoying huge profits because almost every customer ended up paying more than what they should. I think the novelty factor together with a really good customer service team (waiters, waitresses, managers, etc.) make all the difference in such ventures.

  18. There was such restaurant opened in New Delhi, India sometime in 2007. The last I heard, they were enjoying huge profits because almost every customer ended up paying more than what they should. I think the novelty factor together with a really good customer service team (waiters, waitresses, managers, etc.) make all the difference in such ventures.

  19. I think this might work in a number of US cities, depending upon just where in the city the restaurant was located – must be in a good neighborhood with crime levels typically lower than the seedier neighborhoods.

    I doubt it would work in most suburbs. People are too busy with shuttling their children here and there, and I suspect would find the thought of having to decide what the food is worth … well, stressful.

  20. I think this might work in a number of US cities, depending upon just where in the city the restaurant was located – must be in a good neighborhood with crime levels typically lower than the seedier neighborhoods.

    I doubt it would work in most suburbs. People are too busy with shuttling their children here and there, and I suspect would find the thought of having to decide what the food is worth … well, stressful.

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