09/12/2012 09:31 am ET Updated Sep 12, 2012

Barter System At Florence Restaurant, L'è Maiala, Will Let Customers Pay With Fruits And Vegetables

Reports of a restaurant in Italy that allows its patrons to pay with fruits and vegetables have us wanting to plant a garden in our backyard.

The eatery, "L'è Maiala," will open in Florence and plans to let customers barter for their meals with foodstuffs, handicrafts or other items. The chefs will, in turn, cook up the items they get alongside other local produce. Anyone without veggies to spare is welcome to pay with traditional methods.

Treehugger has an English translation of an article in Italian publication Corriere Fiorentino in which owner Donella Faggioli says the alternate form of payment will help customers short on cash:

"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 good instead of real money," Faggioli tells Corriere Fiorentino.

Although bartering for a meal sounds more medieval than modern, it's something several businesses have explored in recent years.

GOOD wrote about the bartering system at Chicago eatery Fireside Restaurant and Lounge back in 2011. Owner Richard Wohn estimated that about five to 10 percent of his business was the result of bartering, and it saved him money in the long run.

In 2009, the Wall Street Journal spoke with Tony Romano, the owner of Marcello's Pasta Grill in Tempe, Arizona. Business had been off 40 percent from three years prior, and Romano had turned to a barter system to help bring in more cash. At the time, he said he brought in an average of $2,000 a week in trade credits -- leading to a 10 percent increase in customer traffic from the month prior to publication.



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