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If Restaurants Start Operating Like the Airlines

Alan Someck

By Alan Someck

Mar 1, 2023

The past several years have not been kind to the restaurant industry.  Covid certainly was traumatic on many so levels and with the significantly rising cost of goods and labor, so many operators have been forced to shut down or are scrambling to survive.  

Airline Pricing Model

Maybe it’s time to look to the airline industry for a new model, where all aspects of the customer experience is basically broken down to levels of upselling.

  • When you want to board earlier, you can for an extra fee.  
  • If you want a little extra room, pay more.  
  • If you want free cancellation or ticket date changes, there’s an added fee.  

New Restaurant Dynamic Sample Pricing

If restaurants began breaking down their dining experience and applying the same model, it could look something like this.

Basic Menu Pricing: $40 per EntreeEnhanced Menu Pricing: $55 per EntreePremium Menu Pricing: $70 per Entree
No guaranteed wait timesWait times of ½ hour or lessNo Wait times
Seat assignment next to bathroom or server stationsSeat assignments no closer than 20 feet of bathroom or server stationsSeat assignment no closer than 50 feet of bathroom or service station
Table within 6 inches of next tableTable within 18 inches of next tableTable within 30 inches of next table
Food received and prepared within past 3 daysFood received and prepared within past day and a halfFood received and prepared day of service
No payment for medical expenses due to food borne illness50% payment for medical expenses due to food borne illness100% payment for medical expenses due to food borne illness
Assigned server has experience of 6 months or lessAssigned server has experience of  between 6 months and one yearAssigned server has at least one year experience

Although the ideas listed here are somewhat tongue in cheek, there may be some elements of this model that will come to be adapted.  

What is certainly clear is that if restaurants as an industry are to survive and thrive, then adaptability, technology and across the board innovative thinking and action will be critical to future success.  

Restaurant leaders need to create a new model that can incorporate fair wages for staff and profitability for ownership, while maintaining high standards of hospitality.

About the author

Alan Someck

Alan Someck has a 42-year career in the hospitality industry. He has been an operator of high-volume restaurants for 25 years where he has been involved in running all facets of the business. His experience and expertise have led him to develop a well-regarded expert witness practice and consulting business. Alan has worked with many clients to create and build their concepts. In addition, he has worked on developing food products for market. Alan has also been awarded 7 EPA grants to train operators in Green sustainable industry practices. He has created an extensive network of industry professionals who he works with on a regular basis. Throughout his career, Alan has supported the success of entrepreneurs through executive coaching and training. For the past 14 years, Alan has taught at the Institute for Culinary Education in NYC and at NYIT where he has taught all aspects of culinary management. His students have opened fast-casual restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and fine dining operations all over the country and internationally. Alan is an active consultant at Cayuga Hospitality Consultants.


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