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A clothing-optional restaurant opens in London on Saturday promising an evening free from trappings of the material world.
Boasting an ethos of “ultimate freedom and liberation from impurity”, the restaurant will operate without electricity or gas, serving food on handmade clay plates with edible cutlery in a candlelit restaurant.
Yet it is the pop-up restaurant’s claim to be London’s first “naked restaurant” that will raise eyebrows. “The idea is to experience true liberation,” said founder Seb Lyall.
“We’ve worked very hard to design a space where everything patrons interact with is bare and naked. The use of natural bamboo partitions and candlelight enabled us to make the restaurant discreet while adhering to the ethos behind it.”
The restaurant, in an undisclosed central south London location, has a capacity of 42 and a waiting list of 40,000. Diners will be asked to change into a gown, which they can keep on or off.
Mr Lyall said customers taking part in trials in the past few days felt “very natural and comfortable” and that it changed how they thought of others’ bodies.
“They felt like it was more of a social experiment than a restaurant,” he said. “When they were in that dining area, they weren’t bothered about the physical aspects of other people, it just became normal, it was just whatever.”
Phones are banned from the restaurant, which he said “probably makes you feel more naked than anything else”.
“The combination of naked food, stripping away technology and stripping away clothes, it’s taking away all the things that are restrictive to having a one-on-one conversation,” he added.
He described how a guest came back from the toilet to find their partner waiting for them rather than playing with their phone, which was “a nice feeling”.
The “idea was to remove the sexual part” to the human body, he said, adding “anybody there doesn’t come to fantasise, they come to remove that barrier that exists in everyone’s mind . . . you don’t look at their bodies, you look at their faces.”
The five-course tasting menu costs £69, which comes in a “vegan and non-vegan” varieties. They include goji-berry-and-coriander steak tartare, and sundried-tomato-stuffed courgette flowers with cauliflower couscous.
Mr Lyall said people on the waiting list were being offered bookings in batches of 500. The restaurant has largely been funded by revenue from bookings, with little investment, and “fell in line” with a trend towards organic food.
“It’s a very lean product, we haven’t really invested in anything, we just pre-sell bookings,” he said.