A Bar With Changing Prices

Reader Thomas Barker writes in about a bar called D Street in Encinitas, Calif., that prices its drinks based on demand:

I was recently at a bar for 25-cent wing night that I had not gone to in a while, and saw something I thought you guys would be interested in. It was a drink price index ticker and they had them on TV’s all over the bar. It seemed that if a drink wasn’t ordered in a 15-minute time span the drink would go down a few cents. When we showed up my friend had his eye on an irish car bomb which was over $5 at the time, in the hour or so we were there it went down to his target range of about $3.75. As soon as his was ordered it jumped back up over $4.

I had a few thoughts on this idea:

  • First if you buy a round for your friends and want the same round twice, the second round will be significantly higher which has got to lead to some weird situations when the check comes.
  • Second, this is a good incentive for going in when it is slow because drinks will be considerably lower and vice versa for when it is busy.

Here’s a picture of the “drink ticker”:



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  1. Doug Huber says:

    I am going to shot Seagrams 7 Whiskey and by some calls on Green Flash Draft.

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  2. Doug Huber says:

    *short Seagrams 7 Whiskey

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  3. blackadders says:

    Tat’s pretty much how the yield management system works at some low cost airlines such as easyJet

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  4. Salvador Smith says:

    There is a similar bar like this is Barcelona, Spain. I think it was called, rightfully so, Dow Jones.

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  5. Matthew says:

    This seems a perfect opportunity for the bar to sell drink “futures” wherein a patron can buy drinks in advance tracked using a gift card. If the spot price is lower than the pre-paid price the patron will pay cash; otherwise they will use their card. The bar gets free use of the patron’s money until the drink is purchased. I look forward to hearing about how this bar’s usage of technology progresses.

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    • Tim says:

      Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  6. James says:

    Exchange in Manhattan does this as well. Every now and then the “market crashes” and everything is very cheap for 5 minutes.

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  7. Steve says:

    I wonder how much of a bump in sales they are getting due to the “game” elements? “I wasn’t going to have another, but that Cab is down to $4″.

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  8. Art says:

    Each drink should have a time-to-make associated with it, and what you bid on is the bartenders’ time. Jack and coke is 30 seconds, long island is 60 seconds, frozen daquiri is 90 seconds, etc. The bar sets a floor and ceiling for the cost of the bartenders’ time. You’d have to work out an algorithm for rounds that consist of the same drink (since they take less time).

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    • Doug Huber says:

      I would think that they would want to integrate the age of the ingredients. If the olives are about to go bad (or they got a great deal on a truckload of them), then the price would drop accordingly.

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