Used to be, a spirited birthday song and a special hat set your restaurant apart from the crowd. Now, with specialty gimmicks galore bringing folks in the door, restaurants have to go WAY over the top to get people talking.
Heart Attack Grill
It's an elegant concept: dress up servers as "naughty nurses," serve 8,000 calorie burgers and deep-fry the rest of the food in pure lard. Provide beer to drink and cigarettes for dessert and you might as well be selling cliffs to lemmings.
Anytime you combine food and sex you've probably got a winning business idea, but Heart Attack Grill, gets on this list because of its commitment to schtick.
The burgers are single, double, triple or quadruple bypass burgers, the fries are "Flatliners." The owner dresses in a white lab-coat, wears a stethoscope and calls himself "Dr. Jon," and after eating, a sexy nurse will wheel you out to your car in a wheel-chair.
There have been some who object to the overwhelming badness of the burgers for your health, and the Arizona State Board of Nursing informed the restaurant that only those who pass certification requirements, no matter their slutty-ness, could be referred to as "Nurse," but the draw of grease and girls endures.
In the South Park episode devoted to lampooning this restaurant, Cartman tricks Butters into thinking that the world is ending in a nuclear holocaust so that he (Cartman) can go to Casa Bonita.
Some would argue that the simple existence of this gaudy restaurant is proof enough that the world is, in fact, ending. It's going down slowly, sinking in a gob of mass-produced Mexican food marked by the blaze of tiki-torches and guy-in-a-gorilla-suit theme park shows.
The outside of this 52,000 square foot dining area is lit up like a Vegas casino and inside you'll dine under a canopy of palm trees. Cliff divers plunge off a 30 foot cliff, the Sheriff chases Bad Guy Black Bart, and then there's Chiquita, the angry Gorilla, who delights in tormenting his trainer.
There are also strolling mariachis, flame jugglers, roving magicians, an arcade and a puppet show, in case you're looking for a higher form of entertainment.
Not a lot of subtlety here. At Hadaka Sushi, in Los Angeles, guests order off a menu with dirty names for meals and eat sushi off the body of a nearly naked woman draped over the table. This tradition, called nyotaimori, which means "female body arrangement" dates back to the early days of Japan, when groups of Japanese citizens would sit around and discuss ways to their lives more like a James Bond movie.
You can expect to pay around $1,500 for your group of up to 12, which includes the food and the model, but doesn't include drinks, taxes, or tip. And if you're anything like me, you are going to want a background check on your centerpiece's hygienic habits. They also have male models upon which you can dine, as well as a normal menu with normal prices, but what's the fun of that in a place like this?
Big Texan Steakhouse
Cowpokes say that in the 60's, a cowboy walked into the Big Texan Steak House and said he could eat an entire cow. The owner started grilling him steaks, and by the time he hollered fer no more, he had downed 72 oz worth of meat. Today, anyone who wants to try to repeat his feat is welcome to try, if you finish the steak plus a baked potato, salad, dinner roll and shrimp cocktail in less than an hour, you'll earn a free meal. Many have imitated the Big Texan Steakhouse and about 50,000 people have tried to earn themselves a free steak, with around 8,500 succeeding.
A professional wrestler once ate two 72 oz steaks, with sides, in an hour, but the fastest time ever belongs to a Bengal Tiger, who finished off the meal in 90 seconds.
Everyone working at Twins, in New York, is a twin. This won't be hard to believe if you go there yourself, since everyone—down to the bartenders, hostesses and usually 10-20 patrons a day—will probably be right next to their double.
Twin burgers, twin straws, the meals even end with a few sticks of Doublemint gum—with their famous twin spokesmodels—with the check.
The restaurant is currently moving locations in Manhattan and isn't open, but it will be back, unless those rumors of a new restaurant, Triplets, in Brooklyn, turn out to be true.
The Ninja restaurant is shrouded by much secrecy. Some say you never see your server, the food just appears after a bang and a cloud of smoke. Some say the chefs cook the meals using sheer intimidation, over a flame of pure fear, garnishing each plate with a pinch of darkness and shadow.
What is known, is that the Ninja restaurant is somewhere in New York, in a "Ninja Castle" deep underground, or possibly riding a dark cloud of revenge.
Although the Ninja's already know you're coming before you got there, tables are by reservation only. The food is gourmet and they charge whatever they want because, well, who is going to try to run out on the check?