Lonely Planet Writer

Eat up or pay up - restaurants fine wasteful guests in Germany

Eat up or pay up – that’s the motto of a number of Asian restaurants in Germany who are trying to reduce food wastage.

Sushi serving taken to the next level in Hong Kong.
Asian restaurant  owners in Germany say they have seen too much waste of good food in buffet situations and want to reduce wastage. Image by Kai Hendry / CC BY 2.0

Clean plates are the currency in these eateries and for those who don’t finish their meal, there is an extra fee added to the bill. The Local newspaper reports that a sushi and grill restaurant in Stuttgart call Yuoki, has initiated such charges, with others following suit. Yuoki offers guests a ‘Taste 120’ which gives them two hours to consume all they have put on their plate from an all-you-can-eat buffet.

However, if their eyes are bigger than their tummies and they leave uneaten food which can’t be used for other customers, they face a fine of €1 under their ‘eat up or pay up’ campaign. The owner of the restaurant, Guoyu Luan explained that the service is entitled “all you can eat” and not “all you can give away.”

After two decades in the business, he has seen time and again the amount of buffet food that becomes leftovers and is thrown out as rubbish. He said that while he didn’t want to upset his clientele, he didn’t want them wasting food by abusing the ‘all you can eat’ system.

Like Yuoki a Japanese restaurant in Düsseldorf called Okinii, also dispenses ‘fines’ of €1 to diners who leave cold food on their plate and double that amount if warm food is not cleared. Its website makes it clear that “waste is not appreciated” in their restaurant.

A sushi restaurant in Tokyo.
sushi restaurant in Stuttgart call Yuoki has initiated an eat up or pay up policy. Image by Paul Miller / CC BY 2.0

In the town of Menden in North Rhine-Westphalia, the Chinese-Mongolian restaurant Himalaya has also joined the anti-waste bandwagon. There, staff can add €2 to the bill if guests leave over 100 grams of food on their plate.

While Germans like to separate their rubbish, they are not so careful with wasting food, according to a recent study. Every German discards food to the value of about €235 a year. At Guoyu Luan’s restaurant in Stuttgart, the estimated €900 to €1000 that he has collected so far in his ‘eat up or pay up’ campaign is earmarked to go to charity.