By Stephen Messenger, TreeHugger
Sure, money doesn’t grow on trees—but who needs money when you can pay with things that really do?
Later on this month, a new restaurant called “L’è maiala” is scheduled to open in Florence, Italy, based on the simple premise that money isn’t everything, nor is it even required. At the end of a meal, customers will have the option to pay their bill the conventional way (i.e. cash, credit card)—but they may also pay with fruits, vegetables, handicrafts, or other barter-able items.
In turn, the traditional Tuscan dishes served at L’è maiala will feature the food they receive, as well as other produce that has been grown locally.
In deciding to accept fresh greenery in place of cold, hard cash, owner Donella Faggioli hopes to open up her restaurant to those who might not otherwise be able to afford a meal out, especially in these difficult times.
“With the crisis that we’re all living through today, we’ve met those, who in times of hardship, think they cannot afford dinner — but we counter that by offering the option to pay in real goods instead of money,” Faggioli tells Corriere Fiorentino.
While bartering meals for fruits and vegetables to those who can’t afford to pay in cash might not seem like the best way to get rich in the restaurant business, it will no doubt reap its own rewards in customer loyalty and through word of mouth — after all, Faggioli says she’s modeled L’è maiala, not after the staunchness of a high-end eater, but after the homeyness of her grandmother’s kitchen.
If there’s a bright side to these tough economic times, it just might be in the reaffirmation that the best things in life often don’t cost a thing.