Posted on

Berlin’s pay-what-you-want bars

A pay-what-you-want bar? In a recession? It may sound crazy, but it’s been a hit in Berlin for 10 years, says Benji Lanyado

Last week a restaurant in London decided to run a month-long “pay what you want” deal. You go, you eat, you drink, and then you pay what you think it was worth. It sounds like the first step towards financial ruin – in a recession, surely you can’t bank on public generosity? Well, perhaps it’s not as economically disastrous as it sounds. In Berlin, a similar system has been running for more than 10 years – and business is thriving.

The Berlin Weinerei are the inadvertent brainchild of Jürgen Stumpf, who moved to the city in 1996 from the Bavarian town of Franken, where his family owns a five-hectare vineyard. He opened up a small wine shop selling his family’s wares in the rapidly emerging east of the city, and invited his nextdoor neighbour, Argentinean immigrant Mariano Goni, to cook for guests on Thursday nights. They didn’t know what to charge people, and so left it to their customers’ discretion, asking them to leave money in a box at the front of the shop.

Continue reading…