Since August, Enigma, in Barcelona, run by trailblazing chef Albert Adrià, is no longer opening on Saturdays either. The restaurant, officially reopened in June after being closed for many months due to the pandemic, and the dissolution of the chef's partnership with his former partners, had to adopt the double shift model to handle the number of guests. "We decided that it was necessary to close one more day so that we could rest properly,” says Adrià.
The decision, he says, was voted for democratically by the entire team. "We gave the option of working from Monday to Friday or Tuesday to Saturday. The first option was almost unanimous among all.”
As the restaurant welcomes a lot of tourists, working on Sundays or Mondays didn’t make a difference regarding bookings. "But for the team, it means a lot to spend the weekend with family," says the chef, who believes the trend of restaurants closing on weekends is gaining traction. "I only wonder if, in the future, if many follow, people will have options of where to eat on Saturdays and Sundays,” he says.
They will. But guests will only have to be willing to pay more for it. Reservation services worldwide have tested a dynamic pricing model in restaurants, where prices rise with demand. That is, on the busiest days, such as Saturdays, platforms would allow restaurants to charge more to reserve a table — as is the case in hotels, airline tickets and even transportation apps. Revenue management is coming to the restaurant industry: restaurants have a fixed capacity, so keeping tables filled with guests is a good goal for businesses that can manage peak and off-peak times.
"Of course, at first, people will feel strange and not accept it very well, but it is something that will happen in the long term", says Damien Rodière, Western Europe general manager for The Fork, a global platform that is set to carry out tests with partners. With more restaurants embracing technology, with the aim of automating processes, dynamic pricing is easier to implement across booking channels.
"People know that restaurants are more popular on weekends, and they should understand that having a table on a busy day can cost more. I do not doubt that many people will pay for it and that the practice will be more acceptable as it becomes more common,” he says. This may be the case, especially if we consider there could be fewer restaurants open to the public on weekends.