After going nuts all summer trying to bring customers into her North Carolina diner Just Cookin, Dana Parris finally threw up her hands and just “let go.” At that same moment, she says, she experienced some divine intervention. “The way I could show I was giving God control was to give him control of the cash register,” Parris says. It turns out that God’s preferred method of business was to erase menu prices altogether, so the diner switched over to the new format last week.
The post got people talking, and of course has since collapsed more into a kind of fiery ontological debate that mixes hash browns and religion: For every skeptical comment — “What if I walk in like Jesus with a crew of homeless people, order everything on the menu, hand you a rusted penny” — there are five of the “Let’s pray it’s not too late” kind. But the week-long pay-what-you-want scheme actually worked, Parris says, and only a few customers didn’t pay the going rate for sunny-side-up eggs.
The move, of course, was more of a successful PR opportunity and a good dose of applied consumer psychology — just look at that booming, barista-less North Dakota coffee shop that runs on the honor system — than anything else, but it was good business regardless. Parris’s weekly revenue nearly tripled, and the policy, she says, is going to continue “indefinitely.”