Lamar Giles
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(99) Penny Dreadfuls

While in Florida, my wife and I tried several restaurants that just don’t exist in the state of Virginia. One favorite was Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, inspired by the 1994 Academy Award winning film Forrest Gump. It was neat how the restaurant worked in bits from the movie. Example, there were two signs attached to everyone’s table, one red, one blue. The blue was the default sign, and read “Run, Forrest, Run”. That sign meant your table was satisfied and required no assistance. However, if you needed more napkins, or some melted butter for your lobster claw, you’d flip to the red sign, “Stop, Forrest, Stop”. When THAT sign was visible, any server in the vicinity would stop whatever they were doing and come attend to your needs. Anyone familiar with the film understands the significance of either phrase, and it just makes for a good time.

Along with that clever reference, servers would quiz you on facts about the movie, and there were all sorts of relevant decor throughout the place. My point…Bubba Gump Shrimp Company is just a well executed play on themes that lend themselves to food and film. And it got me thinking…

What might be some misguided efforts in the Award-Winning Movie Themed Restaurant business?

Hannibal’s (Reminiscent of Emeril’s; Inspired by Silence of the Lambs): Hannibal Lecter, prior to his incarceration, was a lauded chef, often throwing special, special dinner parties for his psychiatric colleagues. So, it would only make sense that this restuarant represent the highest levels of fine dining. I’m talking jacket and tie, a nightly string quartet, white linen tablecloths, etc. Of course, booths would be set behind clear glass walls with airholes, waiters would wear copper muzzles, and the nightly special would be…well, you know. Hope you like the house special Chianti.

The Coliseum (Reminiscent of Medieval Times; Inspired by Gladiator): This could be most aptly described as dinner theater. All tables would be arranged around a miniaturized arena where the most famous battles from the film would be reenacted while your family enjoyed hearty helpings of roasted meat, thick soups, and ale (ginger ale for the youth). Occasionally, you waiter might rebel, and simply refuse to bring you what you ask for. And, when you complain, he’d take to the center of the arena and shout, “Are you not entertained?!? Are you not entertained?!?”

Blasting Cap (Inspired by The Hurt Locker): There’s no air conditioning and patrons gain new insight into the term “explosive diarrhea”. ‘Nuff said.

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The Darkness Kept

Celebrated 5 happy years of marriage last month. Due to school and work commitments, my wife and I just got a chance to take our much anticipated anniversary trip this week. We did 4 days in Orlando (Universal, not Disney), and it was a great time.  But, what wasn’t so great was the psychological warfare you engage in with employees trained in the Art of Up Sell.

My typical conversation while in Florida…

Me: I’d like to try your Pink Cadillac Smoothie.

Waitress: Would you like a regular or our 20-ounce large?

Me: Large sounds great.

The check comes…

Me: Ma’am…why was my smoothie $15?

Waitress: Oh, because of the collectible cup you asked for. We’re actually washing it and boxing it up for you right now.

Me: I didn’t ask for a collectible cup.

Waitress: Yes, you did. All large drinks come in our 20-ounce collectible cups.

Me: But, you didn’t say anything about a cup, you just asked if I wanted more to drink. The drink is a liquid, the cup is a solid, I wouldn’t presume the two to be synonymous.

Waitress (teary eyed): Sir, there’s no need to curse.

Me: Wait, I didn’t–

Waitress (whispering): Look, I’m sorry. I really messed up. But, I already ran your card and if I have to get my manager to refund the cups, I might get fired. Please, just keep my tip. That’ll make up for it, right?

Me: I suppose that’s fair.

Waitress: I’ll just find some other way to feed my children tonight.

Me (defeated): Just bring me my cup, miss.

Next time, I’m going to discuss movie themed restaurants (the real and the inappropriate fictional…Hannibal’s Hot Shoppe, anyone?)

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