Bob Bob Ricard, best known for its “press for champagne” button, is moving to adopt a new pricing strategy tailored to weekly footfall and consumer demand. Bloomberg reports that rather than keeping prices flat across the week, Bob Bob and its soon-to-open City sister site, Bob Bob Cité, will adopt a three-tier pricing system:
- Peak (Friday night): full price.
- Mid-peak (Sunday dinner): 15 per cent off full price.
- Off-peak (Monday lunchtime): 25 per cent off full price.
In practice this means, as Bloomberg states, lobster macaroni and cheese will cost £20.50 off-peak instead of full price £26.50. While 20 grams of Russian Oscietra caviar would come down to £36 from £49.
The strategy is designed to reflect known patterns in London hospitality and restaurant culture more widely: early week nights are quiet, weekends are rammed, and midweek sits somewhere in between, and varies. The hope is also that it spreads the demand: If a customer can have the same menu with a 15 or 25 per cent discount at a different time slot, might they consider removing themselves from a waiting list on which they do nothing but wait? Some won’t, but some might, and, in theory, the strategy would mean more covers for the restaurant.
It’s a bold move from an institution clearly aware of its status, willing to compromise something of its exclusivity, as owner Leonid Shutov notes: “To stay competitive, we need to be able to serve people a fantastic lunch without charging ridiculous prices ... One of the ways of doing that is ensuring a more even occupancy throughout the week so that we are not subsidising our Monday lunch with a Saturday dinner.”
It’s not the first time Shutov has ruffled industry feathers: his wine lists included price comparisons with competitors in the restaurant’s early days, which riled many restaurateurs.
That being said, dynamic pricing might not be as novel as it may appear. The Alinea restaurant group (Alinea, Next, The Aviary, Roister in the U.S.) has been running a similar program since as early as 2011, a whole seven years ago, and has offered a hyper-detailed report on its effectiveness to boot. Meanwhile, Tock, the ticketing system now used by Alinea, has been offering London restaurants the flexibility of variable pricing with little uptake. Isaac McHale, Daniel Willis and Johnny Smith’s two restaurants were the capital’s earliest adopter of Tock, with The Clove Club the only in the capital using tickets — Luca, their second opening, uses only a reservation system. There are a handful of other London restaurants of varying price and style using the reservations.
It’s notable that regional destination restaurants in the UK — examples including The Man Behind The Curtain (Leeds), The Fat Duck (Bray), Where The Light Gets In (Stockport) and Casamia (Bristol) — have been much quicker to adopt than restaurants in the capital, possibly reflecting the difficulty of absorbing no-shows with walk-ins in less populous areas.
Soho and, recently, the City are two areas of London where competition is fierce. Shutov’s move could precipitate a new trend for restaurants across the capital — especially in increasingly challenging times — as businesses look to attract new customers and retain regulars whose pound is worth a lot less than it was just eighteen months ago.
- A Novel Approach Comes to Restaurant Pricing [Bloomberg]