Oct. 21—Goldman Sachs has a pretty brilliant approach to making sure its highly-paid workers don't' waste a chunk of their workday standing around waiting in line for lunch. As John Carney at CNBC reports, the investment bank charges full price for sandwiches and salads at its cafeteria from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. But if you're willing to eat an early or late lunch outside that window, you get a 25 percent discount.
The only thing that doesn't make sense in this strategy, as Business Insider's Josh Barro notes, is that they have created an unfortunate "cliff" effect. The result is that people start standing around at 1:20 in the afternoon -- waiting for the discount to kick in. Also inefficient! Instead, lunch should be put on a sliding scale so that there are no cliff effects. Then make it dynamic, so that the size and timing of the discount adjusts depending on how crowded the cafeteria is on that day. I'm sure there are some people on the Goldman payroll right now who can work out the algorithm in their spare time, just for kicks.*
But while the Goldmanites work on that, here's an idea: Restaurants everywhere should learn a thing or two from the Goldman Sachs cafeteria. Restaurateurs tend to see success when their place is so full that nobody else can get in the door. In fact, that's a massive market failure.