Food & Drink

Restaurant's "Pay What You Want" Plan Somehow Goes Worse Than You'd Expect

No matter where you are, opening a restaurant is extremely tough, and first-timers the world over have tried just about every dumb marketing tactic imaginable to get people in the door. Sometimes it works. And sometimes, even the best-intentioned ideas backfire spectacularly.

Take Chinese restaurateur Liu Xiaojun. Perhaps inspired by Panera, the well-meaning owner recently launched a special "pay what they want" campaign at her Guiyang cafe. As a part of the October promotion, customers were encouraged to set their own prices based on their overall experience -- no limit on orders, no menu items off-limits. And though we'd love to live in a world where good-hearted diners took this gesture as a generous and tip-worthy promotion, that just wasn't the case. Because people are the worst.

While the restaurant did manage to attract a bounty of new customers, those newcomers viewed the offer as nothing more than a consensual dine-and-ditch opportunity. According to Shanghaiist, some hungry misers dropped just a single note on the table, about 10% of what the bill would normally cost. Some, of course, left chump change or nothing at all. Figures.

Overall, Xiaojun's devastatingly misguided operation only lasted a week and cost the poor lady 100,000 RMB, which adds up to somewhere around $15,000 USD. One of her partners was so pissed he literally took the first train back to his hometown. Turns out nice guys really do finish last.

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Meredith Heil is a staff writer for Thrillist. That's what happen when you slackin' and don't pay bills -- we get it crackin' in Manhattan, don't test her skills. Follow her @mereditto.