Random Restaurant Ideas

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. Β 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. Β 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. Β 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.