The Place (The Restaurant…The Movie)

One industry trend that has grown a little stale for me is that of the super-minimalist restaurant name. Over the last few years there seems to have been an increasing number of establishments cropping up with simplistic, one or two-syllable names that offer only the most fundamental idea as to what your dining experience will consist of. Just a few examples off the top of the internet’s head: Eat, E.A.T., Eatery, Egg, Thirst, Rice, Spice, Salt, Butter, Food, Fork, Bread, Melt, Taste, Sip, Drink — need I go on? And while this isn’t exactly a worldwide phenomenon, it seems to be nearing its critical mass in some of the country’s larger food cities (New York, I’m looking in your direction…cough…WHY WON’T YOU LOOK BACK AT ME!!!???)

Thankfully, this trend has thus far spared us here in Richmond, VA, where we still value a restaurant name that beats you over the head with its concept.

“Today’s special is a gumbo infused with the flavors of Aaron Neville’s mole and served in a Saints helmet. I would also like to add that WE ARE A RESTAURANT THAT SERVES CAJUN FOOD FROM NEW ORLEANS!”

Anyway, thanks to the folks at Eater NY, I have recently discovered the mother of all minimally named restaurants — a place simply called The PlaceThe Place opened way back in 1998, undoubtedly serving as one of the instigators of vague-name fever, while simultaneously taking the trend to its logical conclusion (cause, until someone has the balls to name their restaurant Thing, there’s just nowhere else to go). What’s more, it appears they’ve thrown down the gauntlet on what, Dining Gods be good, will become another great restaurant trend: tortuously awkward promotional videos!

Click the image above to link to the video–but first, a few disclaimers:

1. Watch this only if you enjoy cringe-worthy acting and dialogue that appears to have been written by an alien who spent less than 10 minutes observing humans in a restaurant.

2. While I am definitely laughing AT this video, I in no way mean any disrespect to the restaurant’s owners or employees (who all seem delightful, btw). They’ve run a successful restaurant in arguably the world’s most competitive city for 13 years; I make jokes on the internet — THEY WIN. The Place looks charming and I’m sure that their wine tastes like blueberries and/or licorice and that they make delicious Aroogahlah (sp? — Sorry I’ve never been to Argentina so I have no idea what this product is). Still, c’mon, this shit looks like a deleted scene from The Room.