Innovation That Matters

Roaming 'anti-restaurant' hand-picks its guests

Publishing & Media

It’s been almost three years since we wrote about California-based Ghetto Gourmet, and the “wandering supper club” still seems to be going strong. Now, across the continent, a similar concept has been launched in the form of Charlie’s Burgers, an underground “anti-restaurant” in Toronto that hand-picks its guests and has nothing to do with burgers. Prospective diners who want to experience a Charlie’s Burgers dinner must first apply for an invitation, a process that involves filling out a survey about their interest in food. If they’re lucky, they’ll then be sent an e-vite to the next Charlie’s Burgers event. Neither the identity of “Charlie” nor the location of the event is disclosed, however; rather, on the evening of the dinner, invited guests are directed to a public spot—such as a newspaper box—to pick up directions, reported. The five-course meals are priced at CDN 110 including cocktails, wines, dinner and dessert, and the menus are reportedly a far cry from what the name would suggest. “Duck in a Can”—a signature dish brought in from Montreal’s Au Pied de Cochon—is commonly featured, according to reports; also included in a dinner earlier this spring were an elaborate cheese tray, Malbec poached Bosc pear, and almond and walnut ice cream, according to a Chowhound blogger who attended. While only 30 or so guests are served at each four-hour event, applications can number as high as 250, another article in The Star reported. Charlie’s profit margins could be slim, many attendees seem to feel, given the quality of the food and the generosity of the portions. Also adding to the value of the events, of course, are the feeling of exclusivity—sure to generate status stories galore—the uniqueness of the experience and the off-the-beaten-path culinary possibilities. Yet with zero to little overhead required and virtually limitless creative opportunities, an underground restaurant could become an increasingly attractive option for chefs wanting to start their own business. One to emulate in a top-secret location near you…? 😉 Spotted by: Stas Zlobinski



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