A London restaurant, the Little Bay restaurant in Farringdon, has decided that with everyone watching the pennies, they will let their customers decide how much to pay for their meals throughout February.
“It’s entirely up to each customer whether they give £100 or a penny,” said the owner Peter Ilic. “All I’m asking is they pay me what they think the food and service is worth.”
It will be interesting to see what the restaurant takes during this trial. In similar experiments at other restaurants, customers have generally paid above rather than below the menu price. And reportedly, in shops where payment facilities have been suspended due to technology or power problems, customers have tended to over-estimate the value of goods in their basket or trolley.
So it could be a win-win situation, with customers feeling they’ve got a good deal, and the restaurant increasing its turnover and profit. But it could also have a longer-lasting impact by developing a new relationship between the customer and the service-provider, one based on trust. By giving the customer the freedom to decide on the value of goods or services they’ve received, the restaurant is trusting that its menus are of a sufficiently high standard to merit a decent payment, and trusting its clients to reward that high standard with an appropriate payment.
Mind you, that trust only goes so far at the moment: drinks are not included in the offer, although “tap water will be freely available,” said the restaurant’s owner.