Upscale London Restaurant Implements 'Surge Pricing'

Wanna dine at prime time? It's gonna cost ya.

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Jan 16 2018, 5:00pm

Photo via Bob Bob Ricard Instagram account. 

You know that awful feeling you get when a certain ride-sharing app unilaterally changes the price of your late-night trip home from the bar? It’s a sense of betrayal symptomatic of the modern age, when a smartphone program that you've come to rely on tells you that you're either a sucker or stranded.

Well, a similar feeling might be coming to a dining experience near you, depending on how you look at this restaurant's pricing model (and on which day of the week you wish to dine).

Bob Bob Ricard, an anglo-Russian fine dining restaurant in London, will be charging 25 percent less on its à la carte menu during “off-peak” times, which includes Monday to Wednesday lunch and Monday dinner, as well as 15-percent-off prices during “mid-peak" hours. “Regular” prices will now only be Wednesday to Saturday dinner, according to the restaurant's website.

While this strategy is being referred to as “surge pricing," the same term used to describe price hikes during busy hours for apps such as Uber and Lyft, the restaurant likes to think of it more along the lines of airfare pricing.

“The idea just came from looking at how the rest of the world functions,” Leonid Shutov, owner and founder of Bob Bob Ricard told Bloomberg. “Airlines wouldn't be able to exist, the business model wouldn’t work unless you could balance supply and demand. Everything that we have taken that is widely accepted in the modern economy and applied to restaurants, seems to have worked.”

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The average meal at Bob Bob Ricard—the dining room of which is equipped with “Press for Champagne” buttons—is £100, meaning that fluctuating prices could present a viable opportunity to bring in new customers, as well as open up possibilities to implement this model in the restaurant industry at large.

“It will be interesting to see what their experience is,” Des Gunewardena, the CEO of restaurant group D&D London told Bloomberg. “We might give it a go"—though Gunewardena also said that he was “worried our customers might think it is a bit gimmicky.”

So, unlike with ride-sharing apps, prices won't jacked up based on real-time demand; instead, they'll be decreased based on historically busier nights. Saturday night VIPs won't be paying twice as much as usual, but Bob Bob Ricard can now cater to a more cautious demographic hoping to snag a Sunday night beef Wellington without feeling totally gouged at the till.

But as Bloomberg points out, the price of booze will remain constant, and heavy drinkers will still run the risk of dealing with a price surge on their rides home once the bars let out.