A London restaurant brings naked dining to the city. Will this bring a totally new meaning to the term The Naked Chef normally associated with Jamie Oliver and a whole new concept in customer experience.
London Restaurant Brings a Different Customer Experience
Forbes reports that London pop-up restaurant guru Sebastian Lyall has announced a new eatery, slated to open in June. The restaurant will be called The Bunyadi – after the Hindi word for “fundamental.” As the name implies, it will feature a minimally processed menu with both vegan and omnivore options – and naked dining!
It sounds like dozens of other restaurants, until you hear that The Bunyadi will have a dining room where guests are free to slip out of their clothing and eat dinner naked.
Forbes quoted Lyall on his new concept. “I’ve never experienced the other cultures in which this is done,” explains Lyall with disarming wit, “be they in ancient Rome or Greece, or India. I think what we’re offering with Bunyadi, and what I think will be challenging about it, is that it’s an experience of a sort of ultimate freedom.”
Naked Dining by Candlelight
In a recorded interview, Lyall explained that the entire theme of the restaurant is “naked,” so that food is minimally processed and cooked with wooden implements, cell phones are banned, utensils are edible, and the “naked bit” of the restaurant will be lit by candlelight.
What a relief. I see plenty of near-naked people on the beach near my home in Florida, and I can tell you that for the vast majority of the population, the less light, the better.
Seriously, though, regardless of what you think of the notion of dining naked among strangers, The Bunyadi is an excellent example of an entrepreneur using a unique customer experience concept to spark interest. As I am writing this, The Bunyadi’s website shows nearly 32,000 people on the waiting list for tickets.
Looking at this as a customer experience consultant, I’m reminded of the Steve Jobs quote, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
Apparently, a lot of people in London want to eat semi-raw food naked in a dimly lit restaurant. However, if you’d asked them ahead of time what they wanted in a dining experience, I doubt they’d have thought to suggest any of that.
That means that businesses that want to create a unique customer experience might do more than just listen to their customers. They could be thinking of experiences that customers haven’t even imagined, yet will embrace when they hear about them. These experiences should appeal to customers’ emotions, not just their rational decision making.
For example, when we design customer experience programs, we recognize that over half of a customer’s impressions are based on emotional factors. We may use customer mirrors to see where our clients’ current customer service is lacking.
We also work proactively to determine our clients’ values and the words they want customers to associate with them. We use that information to help our clients envision and create a customer journey that engages with customers on an emotional level.
Would a naked dining restaurant take off in the U.S.? It’s hard to say. Americans can be puritanical, and there are lots of mixed messages about nudity. There’s no topless sunbathing on my Florida beach – or most anywhere else in the U.S.
There are hordes of topless women (and everyone else) having a grand time at Mardi Gras and Burning Man. There are restrictions on nudity on network TV, but it’s ok to advertise “feminine products” and erectile dysfunction treatments!
Ultimately for many people on both sides of the Atlantic, the bigger issue may be exposing a less than perfect body to one’s dining companions, not to mention the waiter. In case you were wondering, the waiters in the “naked bit” at The Bunyadi will also be nude – except for the leaf covering their privates!
What about you? Would you go to a restaurant where they have naked dining?