New Trend: Restaurants that Make You Pay Before You Eat

By: Lawrence Bonk

If you want to try Alinea's version of sweet potato, you'll have to pay up front.

Photo: banditob on FlickrSince time immemorial, eating out at a restaurant has gone the same way. You sit down. You order. You wait and then you eat. Finally, after the familial arguments have passed, you pay the bill and leave. Traditions, however, were made to be broken and several restaurants are leading the way. That’s right. Paying before you eat is now a thing.

One of New York City’s hottest restaurants, Atera, joins a growing list of bistros that ask you to pay before you chomp. Why would they do such a thing? It is a concentrated effort to help weed out flakes, they say. In Atera’s case, you pay as soon as you make the reservation. This prevents against canceling at the last minute since there are no refunds. This may sound harsh, but the restaurant does at least allow transfers. Maybe selling food on Craigslist will become the next big thing.

Joining Atera in this controversial move are several Chicago-area eateries, including Next and Alinea.

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