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Random Restaurant Ideas

June 8, 2009

A friend of mine is thinking about starting a restaurant. If he goes through with it, I’m sure I’ll be posting about it in the future. Sharing in his excitement has made me look back on some of the restaurant ideas I’ve had over the years–some of these are concepts, parts of restaurants, while others are more big-picture. I’m sure all of these aspects exist out there in some form–let me know if you’ve heard of them.

  • Popcorn instead of bread before the meal.  I read a book last year called The Post-Birthday World. In it, the main character and her boyfriend eat a small bag of popcorn while they’re making dinner. It’s light and delicious, and you can flavor popcorn in a variety of ways. I think it would be a less-filling alternative to bread before the meal.
  • Child Care.  Whenever a couple with young kids goes out to eat, they have two choices: (1) Go to a cheap, family-friendly restaurant with the kids or (2) leave the kids at home with a sitter and go to whatever restaurant they want. Why not have a decent restaurant that has child care? And not just any child care, but child care where the kids eat dinner and learn manners in a fun way (Barney meets Marsha Stewart).
  • Popovers.  Have you ever had a popcorn? Maybe it’s a Southern thing. They’re delicious–crispy on the outside and kind of gooey on the inside. They’re difficult to make and easy to over cook or under cook. Nonetheless, I generally go to restaurants to make things that I can’t make myself. Popovers fit into that category.
  • Choose-your-own-craving. Have you ever gone out to eat and had no idea what you were in the mood for? What if the menu, instead of being a long list of food, was actually a choose-your-own-craving booklet that helped you figure out what you wanted (with, obviously, a list of all the options at the end). So the first page might ask you if you’re in the mood for something healthy and refreshing (go to page 2) or something rich and sinful (go to page 3). And so on until the book refers you to the exact dish you’ve been craving
  • You are the art. Picture a trendy restaurant with flat screens embedded into the wall instead of photos. During the meal, cameras all over the restaurant take photos of your table every few minutes and transmit them to the screens. This would provide some level of entertainment during the meal, and it would add a whole new level to the idea of telling the waiter that you want “what he’s having.” At any time during the meal you want the cameras to stop photographing your table, you hit a button on the table. And if at any time you see a great photo of you and your date projected on a screen, you press another button that informs the photo printer near the register to print that photo for you and add the price to your bill. You walk out of the restaurant with a visual memory of the experience.
  • Ramen restaurant. Some of my favorite memories in Japan involved the delicious ramen served at certain restaurants–namely Tonryuu and Ippudou in Kyoto. It’s the perfect food to have for a quick lunch or dinner, especially on a cold day, and it’s even better after you’ve had a few drinks.
  • __-Hands Bar. The blank is the amount of alcohol you want taped to your hands. You choose it when you walk in the door, and the proprietor duct-tapes that much alcohol to your hands. This came from something my friends and I tried a few times back when we were spry and young. It’s called “40-Hands.” You duct-tape two 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor (you can use beer, or smaller amounts of beer, as I did) to your hands at the beginning of the night, and you can’t untape yourself until you finish the alcohol (of course, that rule was flexible). It sounds dumb, but I can’t even describe to you the level of camaraderie you experience when you’re in an apartment with 20 people who, just like you, have alcohol taped to both of their hands. This survival instinct kicks in–you’re all in it together. I’d love to have a bar that put you in that situation. (Also see Beer-Pong Bars, which I think exist.)

Have you ever had an idea for a restaurant or a part of a restaurant? Post in the comments section.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Big Papi permalink
    June 9, 2009 8:29 am

    Some comments…

    (1). Ippudo actually exists in NY. I was reading Food & Wine yesterday and one of the chefs featured said his favorite cheap meal was ramen in pork broth @ Ippudo. Check it out here: Can we say “franchise” concept? Maybe in a bigger city like Seattle, Chicago, or LA?

    (2). Check out Switch. It’s a restaurant at Encore in Las Vegas and the theme changes on average 5 times during your meal.

    • June 9, 2009 9:21 am

      I would love to franchise Ippudo. I didn’t know it was already a chain. It’s a damn good chain, I’ll tell you that.

      Switch looks pretty cool, but I think my “you are the art” idea is better. 🙂

  2. Rachel permalink
    June 9, 2009 11:25 am

    The Ground Round in Sioux Falls serves popcorn before meals, and I always wished they had bread instead. What can I say…I just really like bread.

    I like the craving idea…interactive and fun.

    My friends and I were brainstorming about restaurants in tandem with gardens, so you could go and harvest some of your fixins from the plants and take them to be cooked…or pick fresh fruit to eat. There were other ideas…maybe I’ll tell Annemarie to post them.

  3. June 9, 2009 12:24 pm

    The restaurants in Neiman Marcus apparently serve popovers with every meal. Maybe next poker night, I’ll make you guys some of my popovers:

  4. Neeraja permalink
    June 10, 2009 9:13 am

    I went to Ippudo last month, and while the ramen was good (ramen restaurants are a thing in New York, there are like 7 of them), it wasn’t something I’d wait an hour and pay $14 to have again. The best part, though, was watching them make the ramen. That was awesome 🙂

    There’s a gastropub called Waterfront Ale House that I love that has popcorn as a bread substitute, but you serve yourself out of those machines that they used to have in banks…does anyone else remember that?

    Blue Hill at Stone Barns allows you to pick your own veggies / fruits and be one with the animals, then have a lovely meal in their super nice dining room.

    Yeah, I think about food WAY too much 🙂

    • Big Papi permalink
      June 10, 2009 4:21 pm

      Neerja, what would you have paid for that ramen in NYC? What if it was $7 or $8 as opposed to $14?

      Also, how do they make the ramen in front of you?

    • June 10, 2009 5:00 pm

      I can’t believe you went to Ippudo! That’s awesome. $14 is a lot, though. I paid half that in Japan, maybe even less.

      That gastropub sounds awesome. There’s a place in St. Louis where you get popcorn that same way. It’s called Fast Eddy’s, and it’s a bar, and it’s out of the way, but popcorn after a few beers is awesome.

  5. David permalink
    December 30, 2009 5:23 am

    Awesome article and
    Frachise opportunity idea

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