London restaurant lets customers set their own prices

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 20th February 2009

A London restaurant has rid itself of bills for an entire month and is asking customers to just pay what they believe the food and service is worth.Peter Ilic, owner of the Little Bay restaurant group, will not present a single food bill to diners at his Farringdon Road restaurant in Central London during February. “It’s entirely up to each customer whether they give £100 or a penny. All I’m asking is they pay me what they think the food and service is worth,” Mr Ilic, who has run restaurants in London for more than 26 years, explained.

The February menu at Little Bay Farringdon includes ingredients that wouldn’t be out of place at Michelin-starred establishments including foie gras, smoked salmon, caviar and fillet steak meaning the experiment, while undoubtedly drumming up plenty of interest, could also make a substantial dent on the bottom line.

“It just seemed the right thing to do with everyone under the cosh and feeling pretty miserable. We have seen so many more City folk coming into the restaurant lately, looking for a better value lunch,” Mr Ilic observed. “We’re well known for serving great food at very competitive prices and this is the ultimate value for money meal.”

While drinks are not included in the offer, tap water will be freely available.

It is not the first time a restaurant has used this marketing approach to entice diners, with not-for-profit Melbourne restaurant Lentil As Anything allowing customers to decide how much they would like to donate for the meal they receive.

And for Mr Ilic the brave move has reportedly been paying off in terms of the turnover at his restaurant, being forced to turn away some potential customers despite the recession in the UK. However, he has admitted that the average spend per head has dropped by around £5 (A$11).