You don’t have to be an experienced stock trader to make a killing at the Exchange Bar & Grill in New York City, where prices of food and drink fluctuate according to the law of supply and demand.
The way it works is quite simple. According to the Exchange website, “The prices for your favorite drinks fluctuate depending on supply and demand. Watch a while when no one is ordering your favorite drink and snag it when the cost falls to unbelievable lows – or use your leverage to jack up the price of any cocktail, drink or shot for the whole bar.” Unlike the real stock market, insider trading isn’t illegal. You are welcome to make use of the tactic to catch the ‘market crash’, when every drink in the bar hits rock bottom. At times like this, beers are sold for as low as $2 to $4. Exchange can seat up to 60 people and atmosphere is like a nice lounge with dim lighting, HD screens and leather couches.
The ‘ticker tape’ flashes the fluctuating menu prices in red lettering according to an algorithm, the secret to which even Steven Yee, an operating partner at Exchange, claims he doesn’t know. “The algorithm was created by the person who wrote the software, and the guy won’t even share it with me.” Yee also says that the ticker is just a fun feature, and that they are more about good food, fantastic staff, a bar and a great atmosphere.
Owners Levent Cakar and Damon Bae agree the fluctuating price thing is a bit of a gimmick, but claim it’s done a great job of attracting customers. 35-year-old Bae, who has an MBA from Georgetown University, says “It’s definitely something a little bit different. There is a little bit of a twist.” At Exchange, customers have the power to move the prices of all beverages and bar snacks. For example, the price of a plate of hot wings is generally $7, but it could fluctuate either way in 25 cent increments to as low as $5 or as high as $9. A glass of Guinness could start trading at $6 and be pushed quickly to $8. Or sometimes, fall to $4 depending on popularity. According to Bae, good prices and a good location should be enough to make the unique project work. But when they first went to liquor distributors with their idea, they were pretty much laughed at. Cakar was confident though. “One day you are all going to come to me to put your drinks on my ticker tape,” he told them. He was right: the Exchange Bar & Grill is now three years old and still going strong.