Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Rip off Restaurants

Someone cleverer than me once said 'no idea is original' and they are probably right. Every creative idea we have is influenced by something else. In fashion the rip-offs take days to transfer from hot catwalk shows to £10 high street versions. Musicians have contested rights for years, and artists have been copying each other since the renaissance.

The current restaurant boom has spawned a new member to the copycat club. With people hopping from trend to trend like fickle frogs every week, the pressure to open a hot joint has never been greater. And when original ideas are scarce, what do you do? Covet thy neighbour.

Editor's note: I'm pretty sure most of these have all been, or are currently being legally challenged, and some no longer even exist. Some still do, under different 'looks' and some just plough on anyway.

Let's start with this one.

Now, I can see you sell 'meat' and 'liquor' (or 'booze' as it used to be quaintly known outside of America)  and what with it being 2014, where if you opened a shop selling lavatories, the most likely name would be 'SHIT & PISS', I can see why you might have stumbled on the name 'Meat and Liquor'. I can even more see why you might have, after long consideration and name working and re-working, possibly employing a branding agency to really cut the fat from your idea and emerge like Indiana Jones holding the very shining heart of your business in two simple words. Especially, when there is a sort of successful restaurant in London that did something a bit like that not that long ago, but you can't remember the name of it.

Picture from Humble Honesty's blog

Picture from Humble Honesty's blog

And then we come to PittBros Smoked BBQ Project. Pitt I hear? Oh well that'll be because BBQ in US is 'pit smoked' though, so no link there. Clear conscience my friend. We've never heard of Pitt Cue Co. Nope. 

When we designed the menu you say? No, all our idea.


Because, you know, what with the Big MEAT in the top left corner...

That? No, no no. All our own work.

And the 'bun meal'?

That one came to me in a vivid dream. Pop! 'Bun meal' I thought. I'll have that.

And then the sides, they all look pretty similar, the bone marrow mash..... the 'burnt end' stuff...
Southern staples.
Ah yes, Dublin of the deep South.

Then there was the hilarious Chicken Shop/Shack debarcle. To be honest, I couldn't really see the similarity.

I mean, 'shop' sounds nothing like 'shack', does it?
How about some menus. Nothing familiar here.

And perhaps some branded sauces? That's a good idea, nice styling.

Now, nobody has the sole rights over a red top, not even Rupert Murdoch.

But a bare-to-the-bone burger brand,  straight to the point with its functional, explanative name, combining the two main components in the product, that'll be Patty & Bun, right? Wrong. Meet Burger Meats Bun, of Glasgow.

Nice work with the meet/meat pun.  I see what you did there. I do hope whichever copywriting genius who struck career-defining gold with that razor-sharp humdinger was given a gold watch and a foreign holiday.

Now if there is one name that has been the victim of copying more than most in the last few years, it is Polpo. 
The gorgeous decaying style was just to irresistible to just leave to one restaurateur. 
But it wasn't just to happen on these shores. Cue 'Ombra' in Wellington New Zealand.

They've pretty much nailed it, with the zinc bar tops, the no-frills austere clipboard drinks list and the general decaying feel.

And why not have some cafe curtains, I know, in some sort of raw muslin or linen. And how about embroidering our name in there? Brilliant original idea. 

And then there is this one from Ontario, Canada. (concept brainstorm) 
Octopus. Hmm. No, to clunky.  *lightbulb appears above head* It's an Italian restaurant, right? Well.... why not call it .... drumroll.... POLPO? 
I like it. Yeah, and how about we use paleontogy drawings? Yeah, of an octopus. That'll suit the look, a little retro, non-fancy and bold, without the diversion of decorative expression, right?

And let's do that clipboard thing with the menus. Again, we're not copying anyone, it's simply a fabulously witty 'up yours' to the silly stuffy leather bound menus of our vulgar material-obsessed past, yeah?

More Polpo/Polpetto 'influence'... - this is 'Polpette', in Dorset. The name, the brown paper placemats, the distressed fonts... 

But of course, they may have never visited London. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt.

Perhaps, though this is all poetic justice, as you only have to google 'Venetian bacaro' to find a plethora of little places like this, which have been there for decades. Just sitting there. Imagine! Those half-height linen curtains, that distressed paintwork, the greens, the terracottas... 

If you're in Venice any time soon, there is a great trick you can do. Go in one of these bars, wait for the lights to lower, squint your eyes a bit, have a few negronis and just think, you could quite easily be whisked away to the epicentre of central London's restaurant scene, 2014. Magic.

Melissa Foodie - (I stole that name in good faith in 2012)


  1. I loved this post - there's a definite difference between following a trend and just copying what is successful.


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