There are several days when one doesn’t feel like cooking and wants to eat out. Deciding on a place can be slightly challenging when you have budget issues. It could also be due to the feeling that you are being overcharged for a dish, which you think should be available for a lesser price. Then there are those who find it hard to make ends meet to provide themselves with three meals a day too. In such a scenario, the pay-what-you-want concept comes into play. Several restaurants and cafés have adopted this concept to their eating space and allows customers to pay what they want to after a meal. 

Also Read: The Story Of An Iconic Mumbai Cafe From 1871

This means that there wouldn’t be a cashier or a bill issued to you at the end of the meal. The customers have to individually assess the value or price of a particular dish they ordered and pay as much as they want. For those who cannot afford to pay, the restaurants provide meals free of cost and they can leave without paying. Recently, the industrialist and big-time foodie, Harsh Goenka enjoyed the hospitality of one such restaurant in Mumbai and was quite amazed. He took to Twitter to write about his experience at this restaurant. 

                 Source: Harsh Goenka/Twitter 

In the tweet he mentions that he was at the Gratitude House Café in Mumbai and loved the healthy food that is offered there. In addition to this, he also wrote, “Most importantly, you can pay what you want! What a wonderful concept.” Moreover, this café is one of the few restaurants in India that is based on the pay-what-you-want concept. The concept is driven by the notion that those who can pay would cover up for those who cannot. It has been seen in certain such restaurants in other countries that the customers end up paying much more than the price of the meal. 

Based on the inherent honesty of customers, the patrons of the restaurant can pay in cash or kind. This involves volunteering for an hour or a certain amount of time at the eatery, helping out in chores and other duties. Other than this, these restaurants usually hire chefs and other staff who volunteer for the work and try to source cheap, healthy and locally-grown ingredients for food.  

Like Gratitude House, there are a few others spread across the country that follow this concept.  

1.  Seva Café

Located in Ahmedabad, the Seva Café follows the idea of selfless service. Run by a group of volunteers, the people are expected to pay what they want. They promote their idea through the phrase, pay it forward. This means that the customers eating at a particular time is paying for a later customer who cannot afford to pay. This helps to continue the chain and the café has branches in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata and Pune too.  

Source: Seva Cafe/Instagram 

Location: 4th Shopper’s Plaza Chimanlal Girdharlal Road Opp Municipal Market Abad, Ahmedabad, Gujarat 380009 

Timings: 7 pm-10 pm 

What To Eat: Pav Bhaji, Pasta, and Bhel Puri  

2.  Kunzum Travel Café

Based in the capital, this café, as the name suggests, is all about travel enthusiasts. This is not just a place to eat but a space for like-minded people to connect and interact. From book reading sessions to slam poetry, several activities take place at this café. With the best coffee in town, a cup of cappuccino definitely adds to the vibe of the place.  

Source: Shutterstock

 Location: T-49, GF, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi - 110016 

Timings: 11 am-8 pm 

What To Eat: Coffee, Grilled Sandwiches, Quick Bites  

3.  Anna Lakshmi  

While the restaurant is based in South India, the origins of this chain can be traced back to the first outlet in Malaysia back in 1984. A pure vegetarian restaurant with a temple-themed concept, this is one of a kind in India. They have plenty of South Indian and North Indian delicacies on the menu that can be devoured and paid for as you want. Not just India, they have outlets in Singapore and Australia too.  

Source: Shutterstock

Location: No. 6 Mayor Ramanathan Salai, Spur Tank road, Chennai, Tamil Nadu - 600031 

Timings: 12 pm-8.45 pm  

What To Eat: Thalis and buffet