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October 18, 2021

NYC restaurants consider charging premium to dine in peak hours

When it comes to surcharges, upcharges and general nickel-and-dimery, the airline industry has no equal, feeing passengers to within an inch of their lives each time they travel.

Though could the restaurant biz be next to follow?

Surely an economy that’s ravaged a sector with already-thin profit margins has led to some changes. Maybe you’ve noticed the little things that used to be complimentary – bread, say, or even dipping sauces or soft drink refills – are no more.

But a proposed charge to not what, but when, you dine could the new frontier in the cost of eating out.

New York City, you’d imagine, is packed with a million-odd restaurants (24,000, actually), and among them are some primo joints. Places to see and be seen.

*Bing: How to save money when eating out

Getting a table for a regular Joe? Forget it. At the Big Apple’s most prestigious diners, it may not be when you go, but who you know.

Some, at least, want to shake that up.

According to CBS New York, a select number of fancy New York eateries are bouncing around the idea of charging a premium for diners that eat during choice hours – weekends, and all days between 7-8:30 p.m..

“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?” one source wondered. No precise figures are mentioned in the CBS report.

Regardless, some already admit they’d pay. “I would pay more because Saturday night is a night out,” said one Manhattan diner.

And, of course, charging extra based on the reading of a clock or calendar is not new. Using the airlines once more as an example, flying on a Friday afternoon will cost you much more than taking off Wednesday overnight.

But when will it stop? You’re not going to see a choice hour surcharge at Bar and Grill X; nobody would pay it. Though if the surcharge takes off as an idea at the hottest New York restaurants, what’s to say chain restaurants for the common diner might not follow suit?

Ever try and get a table at a place like Jack Astor’s, or the Keg, Kelsey’s or wherever during peak hours? If those restaurants decided to charge a premium to be seated, how many people might be willing to pay it?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...