Tough economic times spell trouble for restaurants. In response, many restaurant owners have taken steps to make their establishments more recession-friendly—pulling back prices, introducing lower-cost entrees, or offering free drinks or desserts.
But the Little Bay
restaurant may be the first to tear up the check altogether.
In the Farringdon district of London, one location of modern bistro Little Bay has decided to do away with the bill for the entire month of February. Customers are invited instead to order, dine, and simply pay whatever they feel their meal was worth. “It’s entirely up to each customer whether they give £100 or a penny,” said owner and operator Peter Ilic. “All I’m asking is they pay me what they think the food and service is worth.”
Little Bay has already earned a reputation as a reliable, budget-friendly London fixture. Its fairly priced menu lists foie gras terrine and whole poussin, an Aberdeen Angus burger and goose-fat fries—many entrees as low as £6, and bottles of wine starting at £10. As a result, customers may be much more likely to pay full price than they might elsewhere; in London, similar entrees might easily hit £20 or more. With an already sensibly-priced menu, the Little Bay has relatively less to lose.
So is tearing up the check a brilliant publicity stunt—or a shot in the foot? On the one hand, the Little Bay is sure to be packed, and diners might well find their meal worth the listed price. On the other hand, however, in these economic times, relying on diners’ goodwill and fair appraisal may not be the wisest fiscal decision.