New York Bar to Set Menu Prices Like Stocks

What's the value of a pint of beer? Let the market decide, says a new restaurant in Manhattan where prices for food and beverages will fluctuate like stock prices in increments according to demand.

The Exchange Bar & Grill, set amid the bustling shops and pubs of the Grammercy Park neighborhood, is replete with a ticker tape flashing menu prices in red lettering as demand forces them to fluctuate.

Customers can move prices for all beverages and bar snacks such as hot wings ($7 for 6 pieces) or fried calamari ($9). The prices will fluctuate in $.25 cent increments, but will most likely plateau at a $2 change in either direction.

A glass of Guinness starts at $6 but could be pushed to a high of $8 or a low of $4, depending on popularity.

So if one drink is in heavy demand, its price will rise, causing the cost of other equivalent drinks to drop. A rush on a particular beer would increase its price, and cause other beers to drop.

Owners Levent Cakar and Damon Bae admit the stock exchange theme is a gimmick but hope a good deal on drinks and their hamburger's tastiness will win over customers.

"Its definitely something a little bit different," said Bae. "There is a little bit of a twist."

Bae, 35, who has an MBA from Georgetown University and Cakar, a veteran restaurant hand, combined forces to open the airy lounge, which serves up to 60 people.

The Exchange Bar & Grill has a long bar facing the ticker tape -- and flat screen televisions -- as well as a few tables in the back where patrons can eat in greater comfort.

Restaurants in New York and across America have had a tough year because consumers have slashed discretionary spending in a tough economic climate. New York has about 23,000 restaurants, with about 4,400 opening each year according to the city's Department of Health, which tracks establishment licenses.

The number of sit-down restaurants in New York dropped 9 percent from the fall of 2008 to 2009, according to market research firm NPD Group.

Good prices and a good location should be enough to make their project work, Bae said. And, Cakar added, put in a dash of speculation and you've got a winning recipe.

"Why couldn't we play with the prices like a stock market?" said Cakar, who explained that when he mentioned the bar's concept to his liquor distributors, they laughed at him.

"One day you are all going to come to me to put your drinks on my ticker tape," he told them.

The restaurant opens April 1.