Restoring stomach and soul

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Many people who work in the foodservice industry probably have some idea about where the term restaurant came from.

Many people who work in the foodservice industry probably have some idea about where the term restaurant came from. According to Wikipedia, the story goes like this: “In 1765 a Parisian soup-vendor named Boulanger (which, confusingly, means Baker) put up a sign outside his shop in Latin, reading:

“ VENITE AD ME VOS QUI STOMACHO LABORATIS ET EGO RESTAURABO VOS .”

“Come to me, all who labour in the stomach, and I will restore you.”

As the definition continues, “The idea of serving individual meals to customers who could sit down and eat them on the spot was, amazingly, very new; so the restorative aspect of Boulanger’s innovation was incorporated into the name for this type of establishment. Thus, the word “restaurant” comes from the French word “la restauration”, meaning restoration”.

Through time the term has evolved and the standard definition that is widely accepted follows: “A foodservice establishment that provides seating and serves food that may be consumed on the premises is a restaurant.”

If you live in California, it seems like the term may be going through some further transformation. While travelling to Ottawa on business recently I came across a story in the Ottawa Citizen that piqued my curiosity. It focused on the recent opening of a “restaurant” in San Diego, California. The “restaurant”, and I use that term lightly is called Sarah’s Smash Shack. It’s unique in that it’s the only restaurant I can think of that doesn’t actually serve or sell food ‒sœ or beverages for that matter (where else but in California could this trend surface?).

Instead business woman Sarah Lavely has created an enterprise where she lets customers take out their frustrations ‒sœ one dish at a time ‒sœ literally. Lavely, an innovative, young entrepreneur, charges clients $10 and up to literally smash up plates and glasses during 15-minute intervals. Given the economic downturn and the recent roller coast ride of the stock market, there’s a lot of takers. During one week, as an example, one of her customers, an insurance broker, patronized the restaurant with his wife but instead of spending money on a great meal and a great bottle of vino, the two spent $50 to smash a few plates, upset at not being able to buy their first home because the banks have frozen their lending.

Ironically, the price point in this particular restaurant is not cheap. It costs $45 to break 15 plates for 15 minutes. Customers can even write little messages on each plate in a thick black marker before throwing the dishes. And as an added value, guests can also buy breakable frames (3 for $10) so that they can slip pictures of their enemies on the plates before they throw them against the wall.

Entrepreneurialism at its very best. One can only imagine what other creative concepts might emerge if the economy continues its recent descent.

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