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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Successful Toilet Restaurant in Taiwan

Would anyone eat here? Anyone? Anyone?

Mr Hankey's success in Taiwan???


Taiwanese Toilet Restaurant Flushed with Success
AFP

May 23, 2005— Displaying fancy toilet seats studded with flowers and shells, colorful bathtubs, faucets, mirrors and shower curtains, the well-lit window in Kaohsiung — a city in southern Taiwan — looks like a showroom for a trendy bathroom brand.

But this is a restaurant.

Its unusual theme is proving a draw for customers eager to eat food off of plates and bowls shaped like western toilet seats as well as Japanese "squat toilets."

“ Most customers think the more disgusting and exaggerated (the restaurant is), the funnier the dining experience is. ”

Marton Theme Restaurant, named after the Chinese word "matong" for toilet, has become a hit in Taiwan's second largest city since its opening in May 2004.

Though bathroom decor seems a bizarre way to whet the appetites of diners, the idea has been so successful owner Eric Wang opened a second and bigger branch just seven months later.

"We not only sell food but also laughter. The food is just as good as any restaurant but we offer additional fun," says 26-year-old Wang, who gave up a career in banking to launch the business.

"Most customers think the more disgusting and exaggerated (the restaurant is), the funnier the dining experience is," he says.

The top orders are curry hot pot, curry chicken rice and chocolate ice cream because, well, "they look most like the real thing," Wang says.

[...]

"Our restaurant is the first and only of its kind in Kaohsiung and that gives us an advantage in the saturated market here. Our major challenge is to lure customers back after the initial fun," he says.

Other gimmicky restaurants in Taiwan using themes such as a prison, zombies and even China's Mao Zedong achieved quick success but folded within a few years after the novelty wore off.

To make sure his investment wouldn't go down the pan, Wang first tested the water for the toilet food gimmick by peddling ice cream in toilet-shaped cones in street booths four months before opening his restaurant. It was an instant hit as he sold up to 1,000 ice-cream cones daily for 30 Taiwan dollars ($1 U.S.) apiece, which is 5 to 10 dollars higher than regular cones.

His idea came from a popular Japanese comic featuring a robot doll fond of eating excrement in ice cream cones.

"The success with 'toilet ice cream' was a leap of faith for me to quit the stable but boring banking job and start my business despite strong objections from my family," he says.

Ummmm... his restaurant is the first and only one? surprise, surprise. I'm a little frighted by the scatalogical robot doll and this restaurant... am I being culturally insensitive here????

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler