London Restaurant Allows Diners to Decide the Price

Outside the Little Bay restaurant in the Farringdon area of London, a large group asks if the restaurant can accommodate them for lunch. But it is already close to full and they are turned away.

Inside the Little Bay, the kitchen staff rushes to feed the lunchtime crowd. At this restaurant, there are no set menu prices. Instead diners are asked to pay what they think the meal is worth.

Peter Ilic, the restaurant owner, is delighted with the result. He says, “Extremely good response. I’m doing double the amount of customers and I’m refusing a lot. I can’t fit all of them in and I’m getting on average, quite good money as well.”

Ilic says people are paying slightly more than he would have charged. And with the increased trade, Ilic is considering extending the offer for another month.

Diners say they like the idea of judging the value of their meal. One diner comments, “Ideally I’d like to pay as little as I can but then you work it out. It’s a bit of a dilemma but it’s a great offer.”

Another diner says, “It’s nice, it will give people a chance to taste the food and if they like it they can come back again.” And a lady accompanying her says, “So far the food’s been brilliant. It’s been really nice so it’s going to get, well, I don’t know how much yet, but it’s going to get a lot of money.”

As Britain’s recession deepened in recent months, many restaurants, particularly around the financial center, have seen business suffer.

Ilic says the hard times are what prompted him to run the offer to cheer up things for people, so they can eat, even if they lose their job. And he is urging other restaurants to try his promotion, convinced it is a sound business move in an economic climate where customers are seeking value.