Restaurants May Start Charging More at Prime Dinner Times

As restaurants get more savvy, people may start getting discounts for off hours

Restaurateurs may start taking cues from the theater industry, setting lower prices at off-hour times to lure more customers in.

The New York Times reports that while most restaurant costs are fixed despite the time, restaurant income often fluctuates with days and times. So to keep traffic into the restaurant flowing, dinner at 7:30 p.m. on Friday may be more expensive than an early dinner at 5:30 p.m., just like consumers pay more for Friday airplane flights.

All this may be possible with the website Savored, used by Le Cirque, Capital Grille, Fatty Crab, and more. The site offers discounted meals for certain reservation slots, usually 15 to 30 percent off the bill. Capital Grille in New York's financial district offers discounts on Saturday nights (since it's a work-week restaurant), while others may offer last-minute deals when a large group fails to show up for their reservation.

While you may not see menu prices going up or down based on the time and day (except for lunch and early-bird specials) immediately, who knows? This whole paying-more-for-a-Friday-night-dinner idea might be the next big thing for restaurants. It'll be like slipping the maître d' an extra $20, just not under the table.