Those Italians Are Onto Something With Produce-As-Payment Method At Florence Restaurant

Would you give your right arm for a decent meal? If you’re in Florence, Italy you can keep all your limbs intact and just hand over some fruits and vegetables in exchange for a restaurant-quality meal. The restaurant is opening later this month, and is using the barter idea to help out customers who might be feeling like they can’t dine out in the current cranky economy. And yes, an economy can be cranky.

L e Maiala will also accept cash or credit cards, notes Digital Journal, citing Italian publication Corriere Fiorentino, as well as plenty of other barterable goods like handicrafts.

The fun part of paying with produce? Whatever you bring will be cooked up as part of your meal, in addition to other locally-sourced ingredients. Bringing in a homemade scarf will not result in scarf-as-meal, of course.

“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 offer the option to pay in food instead of real money,” said the owner.

I’d like to show up with a random selection of stuff like honey, tomatoes, leeks and maybe throw in a curveball like say, a geoduck. But then I suppose I’d have to eat whatever cuisine resulted from such a combination. Self-challenge, consider yourself accepted.

Florence restaurant lets patrons pay for food with fresh produce [Digital Journal]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Torgonius wants an edit button says:

    If I bring in a cow, will they make me some steaks?

  2. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    It would never work here. Barter removes the sales tax requirement. The crackdown would be merciless.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I think you could do it as long as it wasn’t a business. I’ve read of chefs who do something similar, just not in their own restaurants.

      • TheMansfieldMauler says:

        Actually, businesses barter stuff all the time. It’s usually a business-to-business on the side off the books kind of thing. Trade business cards for network setup. Trade work on a legal contract for some website work.

        But once you’re doing business-to-consumer, you can bet some bureaucrat would be on your tail even if there was nothing that could legally be done.

        • Back to waiting, but I did get a cute dragon ear cuff says:

          Any direct trade business to business is supposed to be reported as taxable income. Anything that is not reported is tax evasion, and they do look for that if they can.

          My company belongs to a trade exchange. A regulated and reported bartering set up. Everything is on the books and reported, but I do not need to find a plumber that needs $250 worth of furniture to get plumbing work done, it all goes through a central clearing house. So, for example, I get plumbing work done, the plumber gets legal work, the lawyer gets auto repair, the repair shop gets printing then the printer gets furniture from me.

          Easiest way to think about this setup is it is a credit card that can only be used at other places that accept it and all the funds stay in the credit card system.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        No, I meant business to consumer, meaning that chefs (for example) can do it as long as they didn’t operate it out of a business, like a restaurant. The same article I read was about chefs who host small dinners made from ingredients they grow from their own gardens and food that guests bring.

        • TheMansfieldMauler says:

          Oh, sorry.

          Do you have to bring a certain amount of stuff? I mean, I would feel awkward if I showed up with a tomato and someone else had brought 2 grocery bags full of produce.

          I guess I would have to run outside real quick and try to catch a cat or something.

          • edman007 says:

            I don’t know the specifics about Italian law. But in the US if you were to do something the business does not have sales tax, they are tax exempt as as they plan on reselling the product, the seller does not sell enough to have to keep tax records. Then the restaurant needs to convert the value of the goods bought from the price of the meal sold (with sales tax), so yes, they do pay sales tax, and I would expect that the average person either brings in more food than the value of their meal (and pay nothing) or they bring in just enough for their meal (or part of their meal) and pay cash for the difference.

            In Europe I think it’s different, business are not tax exempt, but what they buy isn’t exactly taxable, they have VAT which basically means (as I understand it) the restaurants effort is taxable, the ingredients are not as it’s the sellers job to pay tax on the work they did. If they bought it at a store then they didn’t really do work on it and there is nothing of value to tax, if it’s home grown then that’s taxable, but again, they probably operate under the limits for taxing and don’t have to pay it.

    • shepd says:

      I imagine more than that it’s probably against health codes…

    • MarkFL says:

      Actually I was thinking of the income tax implications. Obviously different in Italy than in the U.S., but worth considering if one is thinking of doing this here.

  3. Snowblind says:

    Did this. Grew a boatload of herbs in my backyard, Basil, cilantro, thyme, sage… way more than I could use.

    So I took the herbs to the local restaurants in trade for lunch. The quality of my produce was better than they could get so they were happy to trade. Basil in particular was very prized.

    This works better in a high density area, like San Jose where I was going to Univ. at the time.

  4. El_Cheapocabra says:

    This sounds like a concept piece for a Food Network show…

  5. George4478 says:

    >>Bringing in a homemade scarf will not result in scarf-as-meal, of course.

    What if you need the fiber?

  6. AttackCat says:

    But will they take trades in bacon??

  7. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    I’ve had similar sort in Manila – where there’s a wet/dry market right beside a row of restos, and with a cheap price, everything you bring into the resto from the market, they will cook for you.

    Not totally free, since you have to pay for the service, but at least you get to use your choice ingredients.