O'Naturel, the first nudist restaurant in Paris, has decided to draw the curtains after just one year. The restaurant, which opened last February, had been well-received by food critics but failed to attract a loyal following. The eatery will officially close on February 16, therefore, those hoping to enjoy a meal in the buff still have a month to do so.
Founded by twins Mike and Stéphane Saada, the restaurant is located in the 12th arrondissement and specializes in French cuisine.
In a farewell message on Facebook, which encouraged those interested in stopping by before the O’Naturel shuttered for good, the siblings wrote, "We are counting on you to support us. We thank everyone for taking part in this adventure. We will only remember the good moments and the great people we met."
Paris is a notably nude-friendly city, so that’s why it’s somewhat surprising that O’Naturel, the city's first and only all-nude restaurant, says it can’t find enough customers to keep its doors open. https://t.co/pt3onE1rDF— MUNCHIES (@munchies) January 8, 2019
To enter the restaurant, patrons must disrobe in the cloakroom and leave their mobile phones behind. Guests are given slippers, though women are allowed to keep their heels on. The menu includes classic French dishes such as foie gras, rack of lamb and crème brûlée. The 43-year-old Saada twins had hoped the eatery would be a success, considering that France, where four million people spend their holidays "au naturel," is the world's top nude tourism destination. The country has an estimated 2.7 million practicing naturists
In Paris, the city’s biggest park has recently unveiled a nudist zone in Paris' biggest park, several comedy clubs host naked stand-up nights, and museums offer nude visits. At O’Naturel, guests must shed their clothes, though the waitstaff remains dressed as stipulated by French law.
"Our role is to put people at ease," said Stephane. "As soon as customers enter the dining room, we accompany them to their table and we reassure them that it's not like the whole room is looking at them."
The restaurant's chair covers are quickly changed between sittings, while the windows are covered in heavy curtains to keep voyeurs at bay. Despite these precautions, Cedric Amato, a naturism advocate, believes the restaurant was simply ahead of its time.
"It may have been a little early," he said. "I ate there many times and it was very good, but the fact that it was in a residential area and did not have a terrace for good weather counted against it.”
In London, The Bunyadi, a nude restaurant, had opened as a pop-up venture in 2016 and gave guests the chance to “experience true liberation” in a space free from mobile phones, artificial lighting and clothing. The experiment was successful and the founders are currently looking for potential investors to bring the eatery back to London.