Ending the “Pay What You Want” experiment

We enjoyed this experiment, and we learned quite a lot. Many guests were surprised to learn that not only did we not have a menu, but we also had no prices. A frequent question was “How much do people pay?” along with “Is the restaurant able to make money?”

One of the objectives was to make our food more accessible, by opening up our fine dining style to guests who might not otherwise come. It was also interesting to spark discussions on what good food is worth, what the ambiance of a restaurant and friendly service adds to the value of a dining experience.

From a financial perspective, it worked well. Some guests paid less than average, but very few seemed to be trying to take advantage. Others paid more, knowing that they were contributing to this cause. On average, guests paid between $12-20 per course, which is a similar range to what other restaurants charge.

So why change a good thing? We are listening to our guests. While many love the idea and the aspect of novelty, others find it confusing and even stressful – including guests who review us with 5 stars!

“It is difficult as a diner to determine what to pay for your meal.”

“I still felt a little funny about picking a price to pay.  I wish there was a set price/ course.”

“Everything was wonderful EXCEPT we hated the ‘pay what you want’ approach.”

Some very strong opinions, and we want to make sure that we do what we can to make our guests’ dining experience as enjoyable as possible.

Furthering our goal of making food more accessible, we decided that we can have a bigger impact in other ways, including making regular donations to charities focused on food security. Additionally, we will soon be opening a more casual restaurant with a lower price point.

Awai will be announcing a change to a prix fixe system in the coming weeks.


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