Opening a new restaurant is risky. 60% of new restaurants close or change ownership within three years. One way to make a restaurant stand out from the crowd is to have a theme, and the wackier the better. It may be as simple as putting costumes on the waiters and decorating the walls, or it may be an entirely new concept, but it probably won't make the food any better. However, strange themes will get valuable publicity.
Dinner in the Sky
Dinner in the Sky is a Brussels based restaurant that serves dinner for up to 22 people"¦ 150 feet in the air! The specially-designed table and chairs are lifted by a crane. Dinner anywhere in Belgium will set you back almost 8 thousand euros; other locations are also available. Remember, you must wear your seat belt, and don't drop your fork!
In the Toilet
The food at Marton Theme Restaurant in Kaohsiung, Taiwan is in the toilet. Patrons sit on toilets while eating, there are more toilets on the walls, and the food is served in dishes shaped like both eastern and western toilets and urinals. And business couldn't be better. See more pictures here.
Food for What Ails You
D.S. Music Restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan is a medical-themed restaurant with crutches on the wall, waitresses dressed a nurses, and drinks served from an IV drip bottle! The owner came up with the idea to express his gratitude for care he received at a local hospital.
Pasta You Can't Refuse
A restaurant situated inside the top security prison Fortezza Medicea in Italy is so popular that officials have since opened more branches.
Serenaded by Bruno, a pianist doing life for murder, the clientele eat inside a deconsecrated chapel set behind the 60ft high walls, watch towers, searchlights and security cameras of the daunting 500-year-old Fortezza Medicea, at Volterra near Pisa. Under the watchful eye of armed prison warders, a 20-strong team of chefs, kitchen hands and waiters prepares 120 covers for diners who have all undergone strict security checks. Tables are booked up weeks in advance.
I couldn't find a menu, but I made one up for them.
Safe Sex with Dinner
Cabbages and Condoms is a chain of restaurants in Thailand. There are condoms on the walls and pictures of condoms printed on the carpets. Instead of after-dinner mints, patrons are offered a bowl of condoms at the counter. Profits from the restaurants go to support the Population and Community Development Association (PDA).
Under the Sea
Ithaa is the name of the underwater restaurant at the Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa. The walls and roof are a transparent acrylic arch. Its capacity is 14 people, who go down a spiral staircase to a depth of five meters. See more pictures here. (image credit: Alexey Potov)
Shao Shan Chong Xiang Cai Guan in Nanning, China used the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976 as a theme. The wait staff dress like Red Guards. Although it's not an era people recall fondly, the restaurant is doing well. The food must be good.
In the Dark
At Dans le Noir? in Paris and in London, dinner is served in complete darkness to produce a sensory experience completely different from most restaurants. The concept is threefold: 1. you taste your food without visual cues as to what you should expect, 2. you relate to your dinner companion(s) differently when you can't see them, and 3. the wait staff is blind.
A magic switch between sighted and blind people happens. For once, blind people actually become your eyes. This reversal of roles implies a transfer of trust from the sighted person to the blind guide because without him we are just lost.
Tanya had dinner at Dans le Noir in Paris and wrote about the entire process.