Buy a Ticket, Pick Your Price

Two restaurants at polar ends of the dining spectrum are experimenting with novel approaches to filling their coffers.

At the high end, you’ve got Next, the newest venture from award-winning chef Grant Achatz, best known for his experimental, $150 tasting menu at Chicago’s Alinea. When Next opens this fall, diners will purchase tickets in advance, as though they were attending a Springsteen concert, or a Broadway show. Off peak hours would carry a reduced price tag, and committed diners could purchase an annual subscription, and enjoy preferred seating, if they prepay for several dinners in advance.

On the other end of the dining spectrum, but equally unusual in concept, is the newest offering from Panera Bread, the soup and sandwich chain. The budget-friendly company has just opened a nonprofit outpost in the St. Louis suburbs where customers can pay for their meals by dropping an amount of their choosing into donation boxes set throughout the store. The New York Times pointed out that this isn’t the first restaurant of its kind, though whether it’s part of a larger movement of pay-what-you-like eateries remains to be seen.

With these two dining venues garnering a fair amount of press, it’s a good bet that other restaurateurs will look for novel ways to shatter the traditional dining mold as well. Can't wait to see what other quirky concepts pop up in the near future. 

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See all of Cheryl's posts here

Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule. Read all of Cheryl's iVillage posts here.

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