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Eat, Then Decide What You Want to Pay

December 27th, 2006 · No Comments

From Consumerist I learnt of this restaurant that lets you decide how much the meal you ate was worth, and pay exactly that. That is such a cool idea!

“Our philosophy is that everyone, regardless of economic status, deserves the chance to eat healthy, organic food while being treated with dignity,” explains Brad Birky, who opened SAME with his wife, Libby, in October. Customers who have no money are encouraged to exchange an hour of service — sweep, wash the dishes, weed the organic garden — for a meal.”

The restaurant was originally featured in an Article in Time. What I like about the idea is that there will always be those that pay more than the owners expected to compensate for those that paid too little, or better still, those that can only pay less than what the meal was worth.

In fact, there is more than one such restaurant, in Salt Lake City, Denver, and I guess a few other cities. One, called the SAME(So All May Eat) has a website at The owners profess a love of cooking, and altruism. They have formed a non-profit, at for others that want to replicate the idea, or improve on it.

Sure, this thing can backfire, and I was thinking there might be a few that might misuse this and ripoff the owners. Guess what? It has already happened:

At Babu, an Indian restaurant in New York City, the pay-what-you-feel-is-fair method resulted in too many people getting a free meal. One Friday night, a rowdy group of 10 young Indians walked in and took over the restaurant’s large central table. Their response to no prices was to leave no money; not even a tip for the wait staff. Babu now states their prices.

Trusting the capacity of humans to do good is a great thing, but I’d recommend having a list of prices for those customers (like me) that are not sure how much is too little. That said, I look forward to some such restaurant in my city.