By Sagar S Jun. 08, 2016
No dressing on diners, please. Back-to-the-basics brunch has got everyone’s taste buds tingling. What else could explain the popularity of London’s first naked restaurant?
he dawn of the 20th century came with a massive overhaul in the way we eat, with the one food chain to fool them all – McDonald’s, or as the faithful know it, “free worms”. This peddler of plastic cheese changed the landscape of commercial dining in the United States and eventually most of the world.
But since the human mind is fine-tuned to prevent heart attacks, fast food chains quickly gained a reputation for being “not so good for your health” because of “reasons”, and McDonald’s was beaten to the top by a “healthier” option, Subway.
In the 21st century, things aren’t so straightforward. Restaurateurs on the whole seem to be following a different model – “winging it” we call it.
Let’s say you had an important meeting with your colleagues and they suggest you pick a place for lunch. You pick something called The Bunyadi because you hear it’s “Pangaea-themed” and think it might make you seem cultured. But thanks to your bullshit Googling skills, you’re now stuck between the work clown and the intern with your wang hanging out. Awkward, right?
The Bunyadi, incidentally, is a restaurant in London that has tapped an area of our subconscious that few knew existed – the need to eat in the nude in public. If any doubts are cast on the popularity of this idea, a quick look at the wait list will make you drop all reservations. More than 32,000 patrons signed up to eat at the 42-capacity restaurant when it opened in June. Apart from a popular “clothing-optional” rule, it also offers people a chance to dine in complete darkness.
“We believe people should get the chance to enjoy and experience a night out without any impurities: No chemicals, no artificial colours, no electricity, no gas, no phone, and even no clothes if they wish to. The idea is to experience true liberation,” said Seb Lyall, the restaurant’s founder.
Meanwhile in New York, you can slyly assassinate your roommate at Ninja, or enjoy a psychedelic experience at Alice’s Tea Cup.
The Bunyadi has two main sections, “clothed” and “pure”, confirming that this entire thing was a stoner’s idea. It also has a changing area and lockers, so that you don’t have to walk in naked. Luckily the waiters and chefs wear “minimal clothing” while handling your food, and naturally, photography is not allowed.
The theme restaurant is flourishing in the 21st century, because regular food rarely cuts it with us millennials’ famously low attention spans. And while the naked restaurant might not buff up your appetite, it’s hardly the first time a restaurateur has acknowledged that weirdos need to eat too.
Now, this is the point where this article naturally segues into Japan, the land of cherry blossoms, sushi, and absurd TV shows (Kimono vs Kimodo comes to mind). In Tokyo, lunch could be the weirdest thing you’ll do all day, with eateries like The Lockup, which will put you behind the wrong kind of bars. Or the Robot Restaurant, where strobe lights and artificial intelligence entertain customers, while heart patients are escorted out on stretchers.
Even back home in hipster central Mumbai, most of the newer restaurants can be neatly divided into three categories: Fancy warehouse feels, MacBook-and-screenplay writer coffee shops, and dingy bars where you can drink your liver under the table for the cost of a light bulb.
Meanwhile in New York, you can slyly assassinate your roommate at Ninja, or enjoy a psychedelic experience at Alice’s Tea Cup. You can also deal with your budding schizophrenia by visiting the Jekyll & Hyde Club, or head down to the Will Ferrell-themed bar, and order a “smelly pirate hooker”.
Pam Danziger, a luxury-marketing expert, provides a sort of explanation for this trend in this study. Millennials, she says, aren’t really into the whole fast-cars-fancy-cocktail lifestyle anymore, but would rather spend money on enviable experiences that they can share with friends and followers on various social media platforms. And the naked restaurant fits in nicely within this bracket. By the years 2026-2029, Danziger says, even younger millennials will reach the zenith of their spending power, and things will probably get a lot weirder.
So maybe we should embrace this change. Change could never be a bad thing. Without it we’d never improve, or grow as human beings. So here’s our idea: How about an X-ray restaurant where you can inspect your heart rate and liver functioning, while you get wasted and the DJ blasts you in the face with hits from the ’90s? Or wait, how about an “anti-coffee” outlet, where coffee is not brewed but “bro-ed”? Now that one’s a home run.