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Customers decide menu prices

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“So how much are you paying?.” That’s a question that the customers of the Prague restaurant U Petrské věže can hear from the staff as of this Monday.

In the next 14 days it will be the customers who will decide the price of meals in the restaurant at Prague’s Nové město. There will be fixed prices only for beverages.

“When we informed our regulars in an email, some of them got back to us and were a bit terrified,” the owner of the restaurant, Michal Jeník, said on Sunday, referring to the first reactions to his unusual idea.

“I want the guests to pay based on how satisfied they feel here,” he told HN.

The restaurant’s menu consists mainly of venison specialties and belongs, when it comes to its prices, among the more high-end restaurants.

Before guests were setting the prices, the restaurant was charging CZK 120 for kulajda [traditional creamy boletus mushroom soup], while roast pheasant breast served with traditional Bohemian-style red cabbage and Karlsbad dumplings cost CZK 500.

Crisis according to London

Michal Jeník was inspired by the “pay us what you want” method of the London restaurant Little Bay, which reacted to the the financial crisis this way at the beginning of this year.

Peter Ilic, the owner of Little Bay, told the daily Times that, already in the first few days, some customers paid about one fifth more than what had been the original price on the menu.

Other less high-end restaurants are adopting similar strategies. The café Terra Bit Lounge, which is located in the US’s Seattle, has acquired many regulars this way.

“If I sometimes don’t have enough money in the morning, I pay more the next day,” Tina Cooper, a real estate agent who visits the café almost every day, told CNN.

Other customers simply pay 20 dollars once a week and then do not pay anything on other days.

Pioneer kiosk

There is only one person in the Czech Republic who has tried a similar strategy: Zdeněk Joukl, the owner of a winter kiosk located on the route of the Jizerská magistrála cross-country skiing track.

There is a notice next to the window of his buffet saying “The customer decides the price” in three languages.

“This business strategy can work only in the mountains. I would not try it in places lower than 800 metres above sea level,” said Joukl, whose kiosk lies more than 900 metres above the sea level, on the crossroads of the Jizerské hory’s Promenáda and the road leading to the log cabin Smědava.

Joukl brings in supplies on a bobsleigh from a shop, which is located almost three km from his kiosk.

Instant soups, grog, or hazelnut waffles [Tatrankas] are distributed from a window, above which hang the basic rules of reiki.

This unique strategy has become an attraction for most cross-country skiers in Jizerské hory. On weekends, there are all-day queues in front of the kiosk which is decorated with Buddhist prayer flags.

The majority of the customers pay a little bit more than they would have paid in other buffets along the Jizerská magistrála.

“Am I really supposed to say the price?”, Bára, a midwife from Prague, asks at the window. “I have to tell my colleagues about this.” And she pays CZK 50 for her grog and tatranka.

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