Would you pay more to book a reservation at 7:30pm than 5:30pm? According to the NY Times, in one way or another, this is a trend which is starting to gain footing.
The restaurants’ premise is that a dinner at 8 p.m. on Saturday should simply cost more than one at 5:30 on a Monday. “Restaurants are catching up,” said Sheryl E. Kimes, professor of operations management at Cornell’s school of hotel administration. They are betting that consumers, used to paying extra for holiday-weekend flights, V.I.P. seats at the theater or umbrellas on the street after the first raindrop hits, will also pay more for their Friday-night dinners out.
The tools of variable pricing range from a Groupon or Gilt City coupon to a notification from the mobile app Leloca, used by restaurants including Mas (La Grillade) and Centro Vinoteca to let restaurateurs send on-the-spot deals to Leloca subscribers in certain locations when, for example, that 9 p.m. birthday-party group doesn’t show up.
A Web site called Savored, which Le Cirque uses, offers discounted meals based on reservation time.
… Savored, used by more than 1,000 restaurants, asks diners to make reservations online. (It is working on integration into OpenTable, the reservations system used by about 44 percent of reservation-taking North American restaurants.) It offers discounts for the less popular times, usually 15 or 30 percent off a bill. It is applied to the check before it reaches the table, so there are no coupons.
I haven’t heard of this happening in Portland yet, though some coupons restrict usage to less popular dining times. If this system came to Portland, would you pay extra for a prime-time reservation? There is a poll on the home page: http://pfdrink.com. Take a moment and click on an answer; I’m curious to know.