I was honored to be asked to open an Instructables Restaurant in Amsterdam as part of the 2010 PICNIC festival. Faithfully following recipes submitted to our Pizza contest, chefs from Eetcafe De Zwijger served three different types of pizza in an intimate setting within the festival, next to the mobile Fablab. Each day, the crew served around 50 pizzas split equally between Homemade Pizza Margherita, Rose Garden Pizza, and Flammkuchen - the other type of pizza.
The Instructables Restaurant is a combination concept art piece and experimental business model. What would an open-source restaurant look like? Can an open-source menu allow patrons to form a deeper relationship with the chef and the food? Would people show up just to learn how to do it themselves? With funding from the Waag Society, the creators of the restaurant, Arne Hendricks and Bas van Abel, are trying to answer these questions. With my permission, they chose to leverage the Instructables brand in their initial "pop-up" restaurants, which have included a Cheesecake cart, DIY BBQ, and a soup night in addition to the Pizza restaurant -- all described on their Instructables Restaurant Blog.
The space created for the restaurant at Picnic was great, and probably better than any live event I've ever organized for Instructables. Two things that worked really well deserve to be specifically pointed out: handing out comment sheets with each slice of pizza, and tear-away handouts with the recipes and instructions for furniture and decorations. In one of the images below, you can see a collection of comments about the pizza submitted by tasters. The handouts had links to the website and short forms of the step-by-step instructions emphasizing that anyone could make the pizza, furniture, or lighting themselves. (The pads of handouts were especially appealing to me, because literally the next day at NYC Maker Faire, the wind was threatening to blow our business-card-format project cards all over.) Scanned versions of the handouts are included in the slideshow below:
See this slideshow here: Instructables Restaurant Handouts
Arne calls the Instructables Restaurant a "question." If the answer to his question is yes there is something to an open-source restaurant, he has a spot in mind for a fixed-location version. I can't wait to eat there.
A brief aside: I'm a few inches above average height in the US, but in Holland, I'm short! The Dutch are enormous, as you can see in the group image with the five of us at the restaurant. Looking up to meet people's eyes was an interesting and fun change.
More images of the Instructables Restaurant here on Flickr.