Foodies who can’t make the early bird special will soon be paying a little more for a night out in New York City.
Several New York City restaurants are reportedly in the planning stages of implementing a surcharge to dine-in during the busiest dining hours.
‘The restaurant business is a new frontier for this and it’s more is the guest willing to pay to go to a prime restaurant at prime time and pay more?’ Stephen Zagor of the Institute for Culinary Education told New York’s CBS 2.
‘You can’t really fault the restaurant person for thinking there’s a way that I can make a little bit more money on something that I hadn’t thought about before,’ he added.
NYC features some of the best reviewed, and most expensive, restaurants in the world with 66 restaurants awarded Michelin stars in the fine dining guide’s 2013 edition released this month – a new record for the city.
At most of New York’s 24,000 restaurants, prime time usually means between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m.
Restaurants wouldn’t be the first Big Apple business to charge for service during peak hours. NYC taxis add a 50 cent surcharge for every fare picked up between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Restauranteurs are quick to point out many customers are already willing to crack their wallets open a bit wider to get a seat during the most coveted dining hours.
‘People were slipping the $20 or $100 bill in the hand of the maître d’,” said Carlo Mantica, CEO of the Maccione Group, which operates almost a dozen restaurants including Manhattan’s Le Cirque.
The famed French restaurant is in the planning stages of implementing a formalized price increase for prime time dining.
NYC diners expressed bafflement when interviewed about the proposed increase.
‘If they gave me more food and the food tasted better than it did on a Monday or a Tuesday, maybe,’ said Westchester County resident Chris Nordland.
‘It makes no sense to pay more for food to eat in a crowded restaurant,’ James Roditi said.
But not every iconic NYC restaurant agrees with Le Cirque.
On West 52nd Street, prohibition-era speakeasy the 21 Club has a different take on changing peak hour prices.
‘The reverse is true,’ said general manager Bryan McGuire. ‘Restaurants are wiling to charge less during so-called ‘need’ periods.’