You've heard of Opaque's Dining in the Dark where dinner guests are blindfolded, seated in a dark room and left to navigate their dinner plates in total darkness, with only their senses of smell, taste, texture and hearing as guides . More recently you may have learned about the experience of being strapped to your chair and lifted by crane, along with your entire dining table full of guests, chefs, stovetops and grills, to a dinner-hurling height of 160 feet (that's about the height of an average town water tower or bridge, or 16 stories for you city dwellers) courtesy of Dinner in the Sky.
There's no end to the list of extreme restaurants out there - dining on toilets, eating with your hands, sci-fi and dinosaur themes. There truly is something for everyone. But what about "normal" unique concepts? Following are top 5 restaurants that I wish someone would create:
- Grilled cheese on wheels. There are grilled cheese restaurants out there that claim to specialize only in the grilled cheese sandwich. But all have learned that a business cannot stand on grilled cheese alone. As a result, their menus become larger and more complicated, to the point where grilled cheese is no longer the main focus. On chilly days, I'd love for a food truck to roll up to the curb and provide me with a classic grilled cheese (and it wouldn't hurt if the truck behind it served tomato soup).
- Allergy-free restaurant. Whether gluten, soy, dairy, nuts, shellfish, I'd love to see someone develop a restaurant based on Disney's food allergy program. If you've had the pleasure of dining at any location on Disney property in Florida or California, you know that 99 percent of the time, they can cook-to-order any meal for any food allergy sufferer without reasonable concern for cross contamination. How do they do it? Disney magic, along with years of planning and developing best practices for guest service. For a fee, they'll share their secrets via the Disney Institute.
- Ice cream (without stabilizers) shop. Do you know that 99 percent of the ice cream you're eating, whether in a restaurant, a diner or from a store, contains stabilizers? Guar gum, carob bean gum, and carrageen top the list of "all-natural" highly processed stabilizers that prevent ice cream from melting quickly, keep ice crystals from forming, and artificially give you the creamy smooth mouth feel of homemade ice cream. Oh, you might want to know that these "natural flavors" are made from beaver butt--just saying.
- From-scratch carnival food. Funnel cakes, dough boys, cotton candy, corn dogs, snow cones. Wouldn't it be wonderful if just one brave chef out there created our favorite carnival foods from scratch, without the additives, cancer-causing dyes, artificial flavors and preservatives? I'd drive anywhere for that. Seriously.
- Conveyer belt restaurant. Picture this: A round restaurant; kitchen in the middle; conveyer belts radiating from the kitchen like a child's drawing of the sun. Each conveyer belt connects to a table. Each table has an order kiosk. Type in your order, make a payment at the kiosk and within a few minutes, your order is delivered via conveyer belt. When you're done eating, put the dishes back on the belt and send them to the kitchen. Want dessert or coffee? Type it into the kiosk, which is also a juke box.
What do you think of these concepts?What kind of restaurant do you envision? Be sure to leave your comments below.