Despite famous chains like Hard Rock Café and Planet Hollywood declining in popularity, experts still think that themed restaurants will be sticking around for a while yet. The trick to creating an excellent themed restaurant isn’t as complicated as some people might think.
In the end, success comes down to basic restaurant essentials: good food and excellent service. Once that’s taken care of, elements like entertainment and surroundings are an extra draw – though memorable customer experiences can certainly make an eatery stand out from the crowd.
Here’s a look at 15 bizarre themed food joints from around the world – places where every day is dress-up day and strange and creative designs are king.
A person can enjoy a panoramic view of the ocean right in front of his eyes without the need of any kind of oceanic equipment.
Created from acrylic with a transparent roof, the restaurant also transforms into a hotel depending on the number of diners on a particular day.
While it can be rented for wedding receptions and other social events, it plays host to a rather small number of guests.
Ithaa can be accessed via ferry leading to an enclosed spiral staircase directed towards the restaurant. Undoubtedly, Ithaa offers a magnificent view of what underwater goodness looks like in all its glory.
2. The Heart Attack Grill
We all know Americans love big portions.
The Heart Attack Grill in Vegas celebrates the fact with gusto by serving obscenely huge burgers with sides of fries deep-fried in lard.
Diners are given hospital style gowns before tucking into the likes of a quadruple bypass burger, a towering heart attack on a plate made with four beef patties and 20 slices of bacon, served by waitresses dressed as nurses who will help you out of the restaurant in a wheelchair if necessary.
If you are prepared to gamble with your health, The Heart Attack Grill is certainly a meal to remember.
Although Giger-Bar in Chur, Switzerland isn’t a restaurant, it’s fascinating architecture and unique alien theme make it a must-include on this list.
Opened in 1992, the bar features designs by Swiss artist H.R. Giger and offers a truly one-of-a kind environment.
Vertebrae, biomechanics and unearthly art reminiscent of Giger’s Alien creations make this stop a must-see for fans of the artist and the movies.
According to some reviews, the bar itself has bad service and is exorbitantly priced – which is perhaps typical of Swiss establishments – but the main attraction is Giger’s unique work. Still, as we mentioned earlier, the best themed joints offer novel experiences and entertainment without sacrificing the quality of the food or service.
4. Vampire Cafe
Diamond Dining’s Vampire Cafe might not be as spooky, creepy or macabre as the name suggests.
One reviewer even called the candlelit restaurant “romantic” – despite the black drapes, coffins, and puddings with skull-shaped chips.
Spiders’ webs wrap around the chandeliers, every one of the mirrors is smashed, and the entrance floor is made up of lit “red blood cells.”
One reviewer wrote, “Our food was exceptional, though the portion size was generally hit or miss.”
Guardian writer Chris Michael says that the place has “a bloody charm” and is great for a drink, even if you’re not having a meal. And with cocktails such as Blood Clot, Blood Orange and Vodka and, of course, Bloody Mary, there’s sure to be something to tempt the fussiest drinkers.
Hospital-themed Hospitalis is located in Riga, Latvia, and as far as themed restaurants go, this one doesn’t skimp on the details.
The decor is intentionally sterile-seeming, with white tiles, gleaming metal and lots of authentic medical instruments.
Rather than getting a knife and fork, customers are given a variety of surgical tools with which to eat their food: think syringes and scalpels.
And any patron who orders from the restaurant’s “Crazy Menu” has to sign a liability waiver ahead of taking their first bite.
Customers can also volunteer to be put in a straitjacket and enjoy being spoon-fed. Drinks, meanwhile, are mixed by bartenders in surgical gear and are served in IV bags, urine sample containers and test tubes.
6. Nyotaimori Restaurants
In Japan there are many restaurants that follow the Nyotaimori practice of serving food on human bodies – usually naked.
Before becoming a living sushi platter, the person is trained to lie down for hours without moving.
She or he must also be able to withstand the prolonged exposure to the cold food. Body hair, including pubic hair, would also be shaved, as a display of pubic hair may be seen as a sexual act.
Before service, the individual would take a bath using a special fragrance-free soap and then finish off with a splash of cold water to cool the body down somewhat for the sushi.
7. Modern Toilet
At Modern Toilet, a restaurant in Taiwan, every customer sits on a stylish acrylic toilet designed with images of roses, seashells or Renaissance paintings.
Everyone dines at a glass table with a sink underneath.
The servers bring your meal atop a mini toilet bowl – quite convenient, as it brings the food closer to your mouth – you sip drinks from your own plastic urinal (a souvenir), and soft-swirl ice cream arrives for dessert atop a dish shaped like a squat toilet.
According to the manager, “it’s supposed to shock and confuse the senses”. And, of course, they have poop-shaped ice cream.
8. Dinner In The Sky
Dinner In The Sky is for people who expect more from their restaurants than four concrete walls and a solid floor.
Instead, diners perch around a massive table, which is suspended from a crane high up in the air.
It sounds completely insane, but as the most unusual – and entirely legal – way of getting high over dinner, it is the new must-do experience for the super-rich and adventure-hungry who yearn for something a little more extreme at mealtimes.
Although based in Belgium, the “restaurant” can be driven to any destination in the world. There have already been dining events in Paris and Brussels, while New York and Niagara Falls are on the agenda.
9. Dick’s Last Resort
Dick’s Last Resort is a small bar and restaurant chain in the United States, known for its intentional employment of an obnoxious staff and the use of vulgar decor.
The chain consists of seven restaurants, including one near Petco Park, California and another inside the Excalibur Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, which is affectionately referred to as “The Shame O’ The Strip”.
The restaurant, which uses picnic-style tables and no tablecloths, has its origins in the owners’ original opening of a “fine-dining” establishment.
The establishment was a failure, which resulted in bankruptcy. Rather than continue with the upscale restaurant motif, the owners retooled their efforts and decided to “go sloppy”. Patrons of Dick’s are expected to be insulted, or placed in uncomfortable situations.
Adult bibs and larger paper hats, representing condoms in their shape, are given to diners to wear during their stay. While there are no napkins on the tables, they are generally thrown directly at the customers by the serving staff.
10. Dans Le Noir
Dans le Noir means “in the dark” in French, and that is exactly how you eat at this restaurant which can be found in Moscow, Paris, and London.
According to one review: Nothing can prepare you for the uniqueness of Dans Le Noir?
It works like this: you meet in the tall-ceilinged entrance bar, put your phones and anything else that might emit light in a locker, then order from the ‘surprise’ menu where you don’t know what you’ll get.
Then you’re led through three sets of black drapes and to your table. You can’t see a thing. Nothing. Leaving you to rely wholly on the remaining four senses, and the blind waiter or waitress assigned to you.
You’ve never tasted food like this before, that’s for sure. And because you can’t see who’s next to you, everyday judgments and fears are removed and chatting to your neighbors becomes irresistible.
11. Barbie Cafe
Barbie dolls were initially made in Taiwan, so it’s fitting that this Barbie-themed joint is based there.
Opened in 2013, the pink, plastic, frilly restaurant is even more distinctive than other themed eating spots because it was opened as part of toy company Mattel’s business strategy.
The company hopes to promote the doll’s brand image and attract Barbie fans from all over East Asia.
A local woman with a five-year-old daughter said, “My child and I both love Barbie, and this lovely and cute place is like a dream come true for us. I will take her here to celebrate her next birthday.”
12. Snow Restaurant
The SnowCastle of Kemi is a hotel in Finland that’s rebuilt every year and is made entirely of snow and ice.
The hotel also boasts a unique, ice-themed SnowRestaurant, where sculptures, mood lighting and a diffused frozen glow make this a rare dining experience.
With an inside temperature of 23 F (-5 C), the atmosphere is far from toasty, so customers eat dressed in coats, gloves and hats. Even the tables are carved from ice. Fortunately, the food is hot – if you eat it quickly enough.
The menu features seafood, reindeer and other tasty treats; and drinks include hot chocolate, mulled wine, and red and blue ice shots served in tumblers carved out of ice.
13. Ninja New York
Ninja New York sprawls across 6,000 square feet of New York City’s Hudson Street and features a Japanese mountain village atmosphere.
Reviewers say that the joint is perfect for kids and families and describe the experience as great lowbrow fun.
Although the pseudo-Japanese food is presented beautifully, the word is that it isn’t consistently good, and it’s proved to be the main point of disagreement among reviewers.
The servers, dressed all in black, perform magic tricks and ninja antics. However, many reviewers commented on the price. According to Food Service Warehouse, most themed restaurants can afford to charge a bit more because they provide a one-of-a-kind experience – but patrons must still feel that it was worth it.
14. Christon Café
Christon Café is located in Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward. The restaurant has a Gothic theme and is lavishly decorated with various religious artifacts.
Customers are immersed in a setting that includes crosses, the Virgin Mary, gargoyles, stained-glass windows and fake candles.
The location is perfect for wild, all-night parties. One reviewer said that the food was excellent; another claimed that it was “nothing special” but conceded that it was reasonably priced.
Considering the restaurant’s reputation for crazy parties, it’s a bit surprising to find out that weddings can be held there as well.
Since themed restaurants offer a strong element of entertainment, they can often attract business through pure hype. However, this won’t be enough to sustain profitability unless the food and service are well thought-out – or enough tourists with cash in hand are constantly passing through.
15. Alcatraz E.R.
Alcatraz E.R. was one of Tokyo’s first themed restaurants, and it’s both weird and creepy.
This hellish prison-hospital eatery requires that all customers declare their blood type before entering.
Each table is behind bars and decorated with prison and hospital paraphernalia.
The menu offers a range of spicy delicacies, including human intestines (in reality a very long sausage), and a drink called Nounai Hassha (“brain buster”) that’s served in a mannequin head.
The waitresses dress up as nurses, and according to CNN, they can get pretty feisty, “injecting” disorderly customers with huge syringes. Based on reviews, the food seems quite expensive, but the entertainment factor might make up for it.