Chances are, if you follow news about naturism at all, you’ve seen stories about the closing of the O’Naturel naturist restaurant in Paris. The reports aren’t greatly exaggerated, unfortunately.
Reports of restaurant failures in year one are apparently exaggerated, however – most likely not close to 90%, as sometimes claimed. But there’s more agreement that over half fail within the first five years. Perhaps the longevity of a new restaurant depends a lot on the size of initial losses a restaurateur is willing to accept. But its pretty clear that starting a new restaurant in a very risky venture.
Studies show that the largest reason for failure is lack of capital (hence inability to sustain initial losses). And the second largest reason is poor choice of location.
The competition among restaurants in Paris is probably fierce. That’s where almost every restauranteur in France must dream of locating. I’ve never been to Paris, so I have no idea whether O’Naturel was poorly situated in the city. On top of that, the French are notorious for being perfectionists about food. An inability to employ (or afford) the best chefs must entail a poor prognosis.
Anyone who wants to open a clothing optional restaurant (anywhere, not just in France) would be well advised to locate it somewhere that has a lower than average abundance of eating places. And, additionally, somewhere close to where naturists are likely to gravitate – not far from the fabled naturist-friendly beaches on the Atlantic coast, for example. But not so close that the market is already saturated.
Most of the news reports shed crocodile tears for the O’Naturel, and they don’t look deeply into the various possible reasons for the restaurant’s failure – aside from the idea the there’s simply no market for a naturist restaurant. Nevertheless, it’s interesting that the situation received so much press coverage if it’s truly only a matter of marginal concern for most people.
Sadly, about the only “cause” that’s considered to be responsible for the restaurant’s demise is the lack of patronage. The analysis above shows there could be a variety of additional contributing factors.
A factor that seems important to me is that the two owners (who are twin brothers) are not naturists (according to this). That doesn’t mean they didn’t really intend to treat naturists respectfully. But one wonders whether they missed some details. Was the restaurant warm enough? Were the owners and staff sufficiently sensitive to naturist values? Was enough effort made to discourage voyeurs or other customers who weren’t sensitive to naturist values?
The Naked Wanderers, Nick and Lins, paid a visit to the restaurant last October. Their report is very positive, and concludes:
“O’Naturel provided us with an experience of high class dining in a naturist atmosphere and a very interesting thing to see was that just like in many other naturist settings people who had never met before just started talking to each other. This is something you’re very unlikely to encounter in any textile restaurant. The professionalism of the hosts in combination with the friendliness of the other guests created a genuine naturist atmosphere which was only slightly disturbed when one of the kitchen staff peaked one time too much into the dining room.”
The only quibble they have is hardly likely to have been responsible for the restaurant’s demise.
The O’Naturel isn’t scheduled to close until February 15, so it will still be in operation on Valentines’s day. In case you are able to check it out before the end, their website is here.
Their Facebook page is here. (The picture there shows the very classy interior quite well.)
Some other links:
The large amount of news coverage on both the opening and closing of the restaurant is surprising. It suggests that this is a concept many people are interested in – seriously or just for laughs. In case you’re annoyed by Schadenfreude or grade-school-quality puns, however, you might not care for many of the reports.
- Eating Nude: Why Naked Restaurants Are Not Good Business…Yet (1/13/19)
- Paris nudist restaurant closes because not enough people want to hang out (1/10/19)
- First Nudist Restaurant to Close in Paris (1/9/19)
- Naked lunch: why diners couldn’t stomach the Paris nudist restaurant (1/9/19)
- Paris’ first naked restaurant, O’naturel, can’t get butts in seats (1/9/19)
- Shock: Naked Restaurant Closes Due to ‘Lack of Customers’ (1/8/19)
- Too few bums in seats: First nudist restaurant in Paris forced to shut down (1/8/19)
- Paris’ first all-nude restaurant closing due to lack of customers (1/8/19)
- Paris’ First Nudist Restaurant to Close Down (1/8/19)
- Food in the nude: Behind the scenes at Paris’s first naked restaurant (1/8/19)
- No Need To Dress For Dinner At This Parisian Restaurant For Nudists (12/19/17)
- Nude diners, do spare a thought for your waiters (11/11/17)
- A naked restaurant is Paris’ latest fine dining experience (11/7/17)
- Paris opens first nude restaurant for ‘au naturel’ diners (11/7/17)
- Get cheeky at Paris’ first naked restaurant, where diners eat escargot in the buff (11/6/17)
- Paris’s First Nude Restaurant Is Now Open (11/3/17)