June 25, 2024
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June 25, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

If you’ve ever considered opening your own business, you’ve probably thought about restaurants. People love restaurants. You get to sit there like royalty while someone brings you food, and then he keeps coming over to ask you if everything’s okay, no matter how many times you insist that it is.

Why do they expect things not to be okay? Is there something I don’t know?

“Did he find the fly yet?”

“I don’t think so. He keeps saying everything’s okay.”

But the biggest issue in opening a restaurant is that no matter what you try to do to differentiate yourself from the competition, people will determine whether they come mainly by one factor: Do you serve fleishigs or milchigs? Ultimately, people want to know, “How long until I can eat somewhere else?”

So what you really need is a gimmick. What do you do that no one else does? And does it have to be strictly food-related?

So I came across some ideas in the form of real-life restaurants that are just a little bit different from the rest, the only caveat being that they aren’t kosher. But you can open the first kosher restaurant to use these tactics!

You can make your royalty checks payable to Mordechai Schmutter, c/o Jewish Link.

IDEA #1: SILENT RESTAURANTS

WHAT IT IS: A restaurant that serves the entire meal in complete silence. No one’s allowed to talk. It’s like the entire room is mad at each other.

WHERE IT IS CURRENTLY: A restaurant in Brooklyn called “Eat.” Of course, since it’s Brooklyn, it’s not complete silence. You still hear honking.

THE LOGIC: According to the chef, the silence allows the customers to better experience their food. As well as the sounds of people chewing.

WHAT IT’S LIKE: Sneaking food at the library. It’s also like all of the other meals over the course of the year where you just sit and chew and don’t talk, like breakfast on Shavuos morning, or that last meal before Tisha B’av, or that first time we eat matzah on Pesach.

CUSTOMER HIGHLIGHTS:

1. After years of alternating between taking bites and yelling at your kids, it would be nice to just take bites.

2. You can eat with your hands and no one will say anything. What’s your wife going to do? Give you the silent treatment?

CUSTOMER INCONVENIENCES: You’re not really going out with your spouse and no kids just so you can eat in silence. You want to talk to your spouse about the kids while desperately trying to think of something else to talk about that is not about the kids.

NOT IDEAL FOR:

-Shidduch dates

-Business lunches

-Sheva Brachos.

BUSINESS BENEFITS: Quicker turnaround. If no one talks, they eat faster.

BUSINESS DRAWBACKS: I’m not sure what to do about people making brachos. Maybe they should make one before they come, and have in mind the restaurant. Mezumans might be an issue.

FUN IDEAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Those tablecloths you can write on.

IDEA #2: PITCH-BLACK RESTAURANTS

WHAT IT IS: A restaurant that serves meals completely in the dark. They have waiters with night-vision goggles lead you to your table, and you just sit there, afraid to move, in a really dark, noisy room full of people nervously asking their companions if they’re still there.

WHERE IT IS CURRENTLY: “Pitch Black” in China, “Opaque” in California, and “Dans le Noir?” in Paris, London, Barcelona, Moscow, and briefly NYC. See photo.

THE LOGIC: They say that if you take away one of your senses, the remaining ones get stronger. Like if you’re near something that smells really bad and you hold your nose, you find you can suddenly taste it too. Also, dimly lit restaurants are fancy, so logic follows that pitch-black restaurants would be even fancier.

WHAT IT’S LIKE: Some yeshivos keep the lights off for seudah shlishis so the tuna tastes better. It’s also like when you nosh out of the fridge at 3 in the morning. Yes, refrigerators have a light, but the first thing we do is disable it.

CUSTOMER HIGHLIGHTS: You can do that thing where you take food off each other’s plates and neither of you will know.

CUSTOMER INCONVENIENCES: Mostly clothing stains. Also, the waiter keeps coming over to you and asking if everything’s okay.

WAITER: “Is everything okay?”

YOU: “I really don’t know.”

NOT IDEAL FOR:

-Shidduch dates

-Impressing business clients

-Sheva Brachos

BUSINESS BENEFITS: You can save on decor. You also save on electricity, and you never have to clean the restaurant.

BUSINESS DRAWBACKS: You might want to clean it anyway. Every night when everyone leaves, they turn on the light, and go, “Oh.” Then they switch the light back off and try not to think about it.

FUN IDEAS FOR IMPROVEMENT: If the big problem with this restaurant is that it’s too noisy, why not combine it with the silent one? That’s a good idea. Though you might wind up with some people falling asleep waiting for each other to finish eating. Especially parents trying to get a night out.

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, The Jewish Press, and Aish.com, among others. He also has four books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

By Mordechai Schmutter

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