Free life: How to get bums on seats at London’s first naked restaurant
What’s the protocol if you’re serving up food to customers in the buff? It’s really not that different from normal – just make sure your soups are cold
We may be used to the idea of the Naked Chef (thanks, Jamie Oliver), but London’s latest high-concept pop-up restaurant goes further. A lot further. This week sees the opening of The Bunyadi, the city’s first “naked restaurant”, which promises an experience that is “free from the trappings of modern life”. With that in mind, there are no clothes, no mobile phones and no food preparation that requires electrical appliances (all cooking is done with fire), while the food is free of modern preservatives and the furniture is hand-carved. The staff will be (mainly) clothes-free, and guests can dine nude (they will change into a gown and can then disrobe if they wish). So, how do you run a place with a naked clientele? We asked its founder.
“We had to choose the menu based on nudity,” says Seb Lyall, the Bunyadi’s founder. “Once we had announced the concept, all the jokes started coming out, all the tweets, all the articles. And they all said one thing: ‘Don’t spill the soup!’ So, it’s no hot soup or broths for us.”
“For logistical reasons, our waiting staff will be covering their bits and bobs,” says Lyall. “If you’re sitting and someone is serving you, the height of your face and certain parts of their bodies is kind of the same. It’s something that didn’t occur to us at first, but a customer pointed it out in an email. We were like: ‘Woah, OK. That’s interesting … one of our potential customers has thought about it, so we should think about it.’ That’s the way we let the concept develop.”
Convincing the council
“We briefly thought they might have a problem with it, but it all seems to be fine at the moment,” he says. “What we’re doing is totally legal and ethical. After all, being naked in the UK is perfectly legal, even on the street. So, why wouldn’t we be allowed to do that in a confined, private space?” (The law states that it is not an offence to be naked, provided there is no intention to upset or shock.)
“For safety reasons, we can’t have staff cooking naked. But that’s the least of our worries,” Lyall explains. “The really difficult thing is cooking food without using anything gas-based, or any blenders. We’re even having to make our own flour. But it’s the nudity that everyone talks about – and that’s the easiest bit.”
“How did we recruit staff who are happy to be naked? We didn’t have to – we had people approach us,” explains Lyall. “We didn’t make them get naked during interviews, though. We couldn’t, really. If I asked people to strip and said: ‘Show me how you look before I present you in front of my customers,’ then it’s against the whole ethos of the restaurant. We don’t want anyone to be judged on their bodies.”
Health and safety
“There really aren’t any extra health and safety issues to worry about by having a naked restaurant,” says Lyall, “although we got a lot of guests asking: ‘Is it going to be hygienic for me to sit naked on a seat that someone else has been nude on?’ We’ve had to point out that you will be sitting on a gown, which is effectively a cushion.”
“People eat naked anyway. A lot of people eat naked sitting at home,” Lyall says. “The only new thing is convincing them to do it in public. It wasn’t a problem in the end, though. We had 40,000 people apply, and we’ve only got 6,000 places. At this rate, we might open it as a permanent restaurant.”
So, is Lyall right – do you eat naked “sitting at home”?
SOURCE: The Bloomgist/Guardian UK