Tuesday, 18 January 2011
PRAGUE — A cafe owner in the Czech capital Prague has devised an unconventional, but apparently successful, scheme to drum up business: scrapping the price list.
"I had no customers and couldn't attract new ones, so I got this idea. The place is mostly full these days," 42-year-old Ondrej Lebowski told AFP.
Now clients at his Big Lebowski bar are free to set their own price for drinks, food, and even some of the memorabilia inside including film posters, books, toys and chess boxes.
Lebowski launched his innovative bid to attract more custom last August. Five months on, curious customers are flocking to the cafe which would otherwise have gone bust.
"Customers try to arrive at the correct price, some give more, some give less," with most people doing their best to offer a fair amount rather than drinking and eating for free, Lebowski explained.
The cosy cafe includes a tiny bar on the ground floor, a steep staircase and two first-floor rooms, one painted red, the other one green.
"I come here once a week. It's great, amazing. But you feel inclined to pay regular prices just because it's a cool place," says Ankat, a young American studying in Prague.
"I usually pay what I usually pay in a normal place, around 20 koruna (80 euro cents or a dollar) for a beer," he added.
The cafe, open on workday evenings, mirrors Lebowski's passion for movies, particularly The Big Lebowski.
Ondrej named both himself and the venue after the quirky 1998 box-office hit.
"I changed my name when I found a new partner whose first name is the same as that of my ex-wife," explained the towering figure with a broad smile.
Also inspired by the movie, the Big Lebowski bar offers a tasty White Russian cocktail made of vodka, coffee liqueur and milk -- for no fixed price.
Sipping the creamy drink on the rocks, Aurora, an American college student, praised both the taste and the price she chose to pay for the tipple.
"It's good," she nods, before adding: "I paid 80 koruna for two."