'Pay what you like' is recipe for success

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The Independent Online
A CUNNING gimmick which took a gamble on people's sense of fair play has paid off for a restaurant which told customers to pay what they thought their meal was worth, writes Cathy Comerford.

Tuesday nights at Sweet Melinda's, in Edinburgh, have been fully booked since the "pay what you like" promotion started four weeks ago. Now the restaurant, in Marchmont, a residential area of the city which is popular with students, is always busy on what is traditionally a quiet night for restaurateurs.

Joint owners Karen McLean and chef Kevin O'Connor have not only boosted their clientele but have had at least two guests overpay. None has yet tried to get away with a dirt-cheap dinner, which they put down to customer loyalty.

Ms McLean, 37, said: "What was once a quiet night is now very busy. We have new people coming in all the time. And they come back on Saturday night when it's normal prices.

"Sooner or later, of course, we are going to get students in who will want to pay 50p, but it hasn't happened yet."

One couple celebrating their fourth anniversary knowingly overpaid by almost pounds 30, offering pounds 100 for a pounds 72.50 meal. Another customer paid pounds 20 over the odds. Ms McLean declined to say exactly how much the restaurant had profited from the scheme but said it would continue indefinitely unless people started to abuse it.