Everyone who meets at my local coffee shop seems to do so mostly at 10:30 am, secondly on the hour and third most frequently, every half hour. This reminds me of the El Farol problem.
Today’s invention offers a way to even out the staff-stress and waiting times.
It is simply to adopt a congestion charge. Make the prices, displayed electronically, all increase as the headcount of customers increases within the coffee shop.
The level of increase required to redistribute the customers to other times of the day, without alienating them by absurdly large pricehikes, would require some experimentation.
It’s probably better to treat it as a dynamic ‘happy hour’ in which prices, which are high by default, decrease as the crowds disperse.