It’s like going to any other restaurant advertising “natural ingredients:” A menu that offers mostly raw foods such as vegetables, fruits, flowers, smoked meat, and fish, with an added pièce de resistance – patrons eating in the buff.
Naked restaurants, or “foodies for nudies” as many call them, are becoming a trend, and a number have been opening with great success in, among other cities, London, Milan, Tokyo, Melbourne and, soon, Paris.
Dining “au naturel” reached a whole new level this summer when, for the opening in June of London’s first ‘food-in-the-nude’ restaurant, The Bunyadi, more than 46,000 aspiring patrons rushed their names on to the waiting list, according to its website.
The restaurant, installed temporarily in a former pub south of the city and conforming with another popular European trend of pop-up, unexpected eateries, will close soon after three months and has announced plans to open a new one in Paris in September or October.
“Enter a secret Pangea-like world, free from phones, electric lights and even clothing (optional) and revisit the beginning where everything was fresh, free and unadulterated from the trappings of modern life,” it offers. And if you’re going to believe the reviews on its Facebook site, the concept has been very well received.
Newspaper critics also seem to like it: “I checked out London’s naked restaurant and now I’m converted to eating in the nude,” wrote The Independent’s reviewer. “The excitement in the air matched the buzz” agreed Time Out.
In her tongue-in-cheek review for the Telegraph, “I had lunch at Britains’s first naked restaurant,” Hannah Betts describes her trepidation and doubts before making it into the restaurant with her boyfriend to conclude that “after 90 minutes chomping and sweating, we emerge into the blinding late afternoon light feeling faint and startled. Eyeing the Chicken Cottage across the street, my boyfriend sighs: “Can we just go and eat?”
With capacity for 42 people who arrive fully clothed and are provided with lockers and white robes to change into as they sip cocktails, the restaurant charges £60 per person for a “naked menu” served by “minimally clothed” waiting staff at tables separated for privacy with bamboo partitions, by candlelight.
The Bunyadi, with its tens of thousands of hopeful patrons, has made its mark and is counting on its London success as a preamble to the upcoming Parisian venture.
“It’s going to be the same in Paris as it has been in London, back to the start, no mobile phones, all natural, candles, and raw, organic food,” the restaurant’s events planner told The Local. “We think the French would pretty much love this; there are a lot of naturists there.”
The Bunyadi is a project of the Lollipop company, a pop-up group that caters unusual events throughout London. Pop-up food and other pop-up stores and businesses have been around for years but now are taking on new meaning as young entrepreneurs drive them in unexpected directions. The quick-hit Bunyadi, with its optional clothing, banned cell phones and appeal to diners to come for a “natural,” “pure” and “liberating” experience is setting an example.
Milan also was in the news for its own “food in the nude” experience this summer at L’Italo Americano which, according to reports in local newspapers, started last month offering a weekly “meeting for naturists” on Fridays. Due to the stir caused by the news, the restaurant’s manager explained that “it has nothing to do with sex, swingers or anything like that.”
Like its London counterpart, this one offers dining by candlelight, no phones allowed at the tables and adds dancing for €50 for members of the Italian Naturist Association and €100 for non-members.
The naked eating experience at L’Italo Americano has been lauded as another sign of the rise of nudism in Italy. The newspaper Il Giorno wrote recently that “the evenings dedicated to nudists at the restaurant in Cerro Maggiore has contributed to the emergence of a trend that is getting more and more obvious. A recent survey of this reality, in fact, revealed that 44% of Italians are considering taking a vacation at a nudist beach, 58% of Italian men are prepared to sunbathe nude as are 33% of women.”
In Japan, the opening of Tokyo’s Amrita restaurant, also a pop-up planned for this month, caused a stir of another kind when it announced some discriminatory entrance conditions: patrons from ages 18 to 60, nobody overweight – and no tattoos.
The restaurant had also announced that patrons will be required to wear paper underwear, that entertainment was going to be provided by male waitresses clad in G-strings and that male models will offer a dance performance.
For one critic, the experience promises to be “the strangest and most awkward dinner party of all times.” In any event, the controversy that resulted convinced the restaurant to reverse most of its entrance criteria, opening to anyone from 20 to 120…and those overweight are invited to join the feast.