Friday Question of the Day – Worst Restaurant Concept?

cereal bowl

Looking for a little levity today so this one comes from a friend after we were just joking around about terrible restaurant concepts. And of course it can be real, like Cereal Bowl, or imagined. Have at it!

93 Comment

  • I actually am a bit disappointed I never got a chance to try Cereal Bowl when it was open

    I passed it after it had just opened but never went in, and before I got a chance to correct that, it was gone

    It really was here and gone in a blink

    Did it last more than a month or two?

    • Don’t be disappointed. It was as awful as it could be. I used to live in the neighborhood and went three times to my own astonishment and regret. The memory of how bad it was has remained with me for years.

      First time, ordered cereal without realizing that it was just indeed cereal in those drop down wholesale things from Whole Foods. Second time, got a “cereal milkshake” just awful that I had to throw away. Imagine a yogurt smoothie with bits of cornflakes and sour fruit. Third time, simply because it was hot and had time to kill before going to the Uptown theater got their chocolate shake, while not awful, just very blah.

    • Don’t be, it was as bad as everyone remembers it to be.

    • Cereality has one remaining location, according to its website: the Dallas airport. Honestly, I could see this working in an airport. That’s about the only place I could see this working, but I could totally see this working in an airport.

      • AIRPORT – I agree 100%. Bratty kids who can be placated temporarily by a bowl of cereal. Genius. This reminds me of something I overheard an 8th grader say while walking through Union Station (on a rainy day during school trip season), “I thought we were going to REAL mall, not a FAKE mall.” Then something occurred to me, although I’m sure many 8th graders are excited to learn about DC and visit museums, there are those that just want to be kids and buy stupid crap with their spending money and run around and eat junk with minimal parental supervision. But sure, cereal in an airport.

        • If you’ve ever been to the Pentagon City mall during the day, you’ll see that it is absolutely a stop for schoolkids on trips. The amount of people would bring a tear to the eye of any 1980s mall developer.

    • maxwell smart

      I’m with you James – it was closed before my time in DC, but I can guarantee I would probably have visited. Sometimes you’re just really craving a bowl of Apple Jacks but don’t want to buy the whole box.

      • The problem was that a bowl of Apple Jacks there cost about the same as a whole box.

        • maxwell smart

          But less waste? Or less guilt when I end up eating entire said box in one sitting? Perhaps they were before their time. I mean, now that marijuana is legal, next to a dispensary, this place could probably make bank.

  • U Gonna Eat That? A casual diner connected to a fancier restaurant where you can order what’s leftover on bussed plates at a deep discount.

  • I Dont Get It

    The Inn at Little Dave Thomas Circle.

  • I never went into O’Tasty in Adams Morgan, but the Irish name combined with the Asian (?) food always seemed ill advised.

    • But just to clarify, “O’Tasty” is not actually an Irish name. Though I did once meet a Scotsman named Angus McScrumptious.

  • I’m surprised to be saying this, because I like every other concept David Chang has come up with that I’ve tried, but I have never liked nor understood the Momofuku Milk Bar. Never enjoyed something I’ve had, and it isn’t for lack of trying.

    • Some people love pure sugar? That’s all I got. Not a fan either.

      • Huh? I think that their signature item (or what I understand to be their signature item) is cereal milk, which is actually quite salty imo.

    • I only sampled three things from Milk Bar when I ate at Momofuku, and I was unimpressed. I mean, I liked the cake ball and cereal milk ice cream, but neither was wait-in-line good or particular exciting (though the ice cream is a novel concept). The compost cookie on the other hand was totally mediocre and pretty flavorless for all that’s supposedly in it. I didn’t get the hype. In looking at some of Christina Tossi’s recipes, they all appear to be so complicated with no particular payoff.

      • Agreed – saltiest cookies I’ve ever eaten. Not a fan.

      • The “naked” cake is just awful. It was too dry and overly sweet. Everyone knows the best part of the cake is the frosting.

        • maxwell smart

          I might have to disagree there… I hate when there is WAY too much frosting. It should compliment, not over-power or be used to overcompensate for poor cake making.

      • There’s also something odd about standing in line for a long time to buy something that comes in a package. I feel like that space is deliberately small in order to cultivate an air of exclusivity when really you’re eating something that was made somewhere off site. You can order a lot of that stuff (not the ice cream, obviously) online. There’s something needlessly fussy and forced about it that annoys me.

    • The signature cereal milk doesn’t taste like cereal milk it just tastes bad.

      The birthday cake truffles and crack pie are some of the best deserts I’ve ever had though.

    • I agree. I’ve been to the one in DC and tried it a couple times in New York. Everything I tried was just a sugar bomb. I don’t get it.
      She’s opening two more locations in DC, so someone likes it.

      • I don’t know the location of the next two stores, but unless they are in a place like Georgetown, they are probably going to fail. The allure of Milk Bar is that it’s famous and can only be found in big cities so tourists eat the hype up, but they wont get the traffic outside of a place like City Center. I wanted to like it, and honestly enjoy a couple of their things (I loved the thanksgiving croissant), but not for the price point.

        • maxwell smart

          This is how I feel about Georgetown Cupcake. They are not good. The cake is dry, the frosting is overtly sweet and/or bland. It’s essentially a Safeway cupcake for 3x the cost in a fancy package.

          • I disagree. I think it’s actually a pretty solid cupcake, but it is definitely NOT worth waiting in line for. There’s absolutely nothing special about it. At least Baked and Wired cupcakes have some sort of wow factor.

          • anonymouse_dianne

            Georgetown Greek girls made a dog out of cupcakes for the WARL gala a few years back. They even made dog-safe (eg not chocolate) cupcakes for the dogs. I think the cupcakes are good and the women are fantastic people. But not worth the line. Was in Georgetown a few weekends ago and the lines at both Georgetown and Baked and Wired were down the street almost a block.

      • I was having lunch at the Daniel Bolud in City Center a while back, right after Milk Bar opened and I was chatting with the bartender, and mentioned I was thinking of going. He recommended I skip it and go to Rare Sweets instead, which was amazingly good advice. Rare Sweets is much better and you don’t have to wait in a long line for it.

  • The Allahu Snack Bar

  • Mug of Glop

    In Ann Arbor for years and years, there was a reasonably passable sushi restaurant on a main student drag called “Sushi.come”, which intended to probably play off both the web2.0 revolution when they opened and the welcoming nature of “come on in”, but it seemed like the uncomfortably physiologically homophonic ramifications of the internetty suffix on there was lost on the owners until just a few years ago, when the signage out front was thankfully changed to “”. Every time someone mentioned the restaurant, which we did frequent, was accompanied by “How do they want us to say it?”
    There was also another freestanding building in the more downscale end of the cheaper undergrad off-campus housing that was split into two separate establishments, but appeared from the outside like a combined sushi restaurant and hardware store. I’m not sure that’d be a great or a horrible concept.

  • If it’s called a “concept” you should figure it will suck or at least be overpriced and mediocre. Any truly successful salesman will tell you that a decent product sells itself. It’s the less gthan decent that need help or in tpoday’s terms “curating”.

  • Cereal coffee shops have been extraordinarily popular in South Korea!

  • Cold Leftovers: Everything here is leftover. We cook the food fresh today and serve it tomorrow. Cold pizza we have that. Cold Chicken wings you betcha. Smell the delicious smell of fresh cooked food, but get the comforting taste of food that sat in the fridge overnight. Isn’t food better when its had a chance to age.

  • there is a place on the San Antonio riverwalk called Dick’s.. concept; waiters personify the name. Awful service, worse food.

  • Sushi. Burritos.

    Game. Set. Match.

  • Worst concept ever? Applebee’s

    I have no idea how this place is in business let alone that they have flourished enough to expand across the country.

  • Andie302

    I thought it was a Charlie Chaplain themed ramen place, but that seems to be doing pretty well

    • Throw in steam punk decor too! I had my doubts when I walked into that place for the first time, but I do love their ramen and some of their big drinks – especially the rosemary one – are really good! And Charlie Chaplin movies on the wall just give it some quirky-ness!

      • Both times I’ve had their ramen I thoughtit was average at best… I’d much rather go to Daikaya / Haikan.. That said, I really enjoy the drinks, and the vibe ofthe bar upstairs is really cool.

    • Didn’t they have to change the name to something else, though?

      • Still called Chaplin’s as far as I’m aware. And I agree that it’s good, though others on here have savaged it, so it’s probably actually bad.

    • I took this picture in tokyo in 2010. I don’t get it, but it shows this concept is not totally out of left field. There is I am sure some cultural significance, but I haven’t taken a moment to try and figure it out.

    • Yeah, strange concept but their food really is good. I love their tan tan men and their happy hour prices are very reasonable for the area. I take out-of-town guests there a lot and they always love it.

    • Mug of Glop

      Chaplin’s is actually pretty great, if not a bit more expensive than I’d prefer and not really authentic in terms of traditional ramen. They’ve also got a pretty awesome liquor and cocktail program. The Charlie Chaplin theme seems limited to a wall mural or two and the occasional (or maybe always) black suspenders over white shirts the serving staff wears.

  • A Latino restaurant in a Trump hotel….oh wait

  • The first one that comes to mind for me is that dumb ketchup-themed restaurant that was opened by the equally dumb Ashton Kutcher. Did anyone ever try it?

  • Well, it’s just a burger joint, but Bobby’s Burger Palace has the worst name I can think of, and the logo (font, color, etc) is absolutely hideous. I’ve never been because it’s all so off putting.

    • maxwell smart

      A: It’s not that good, so you’re not missing anything
      B: Bobby’s Burger PLACE would have been a better name. Palace just doesn’t flow. And there is nothing palatial going on there
      C: I sorta don’t mind the 70’s retro burger king look

  • No love (or hate) for (late great) M’Dawg in Adams Morgan? Not all that bad really, but overpriced and more of a food truck concept than a restaurant.

  • Popkern in petworth. Seriously who goes here..

    • I do. And anyone who’s a fan of Stella’s PopKern. It’s awesome — maybe you should try it.

      • I’ve never seen anyone in there. Seems like a food truck would have been enough for popc(e)rn but hey, if they have one customer then who am I to judge?

  • Eat N’ Run! You must run on the treadmill to earn calories that can be “cashed in” at the register for your meal. You can only eat the amount of calories you burned off or pay a penalty.

  • I am going to get shit for this one but pasta mia ( now closed) wait in a line to have over cooked pasta in bland or over sales sauces. There is a minimum price point per a person and the bread was terrible . I never understood the hype about this place.

    • I remember a place like that when I was in college. Cafeteria-style overcooked pasta with sauce on top. Couldn’t figure out the attraction, and then later, they were busted for running a cocaine operation.

  • justinbc

    This has to be STK, although somehow it’s been successful in other cities.

  • Shelly’s Back Room Cigar Bar. I know they have been around for ages but when I first came here I just thought no.

  • What is…The Shaw Bijou! Too soon?

  • maxwell smart

    I went a place in Pasadena once called Thaitalian – Thai Italian Fusion. I think the basis was that both cuisines have noodle based dishes and I guess basil? It was… regrettable.

  • I went to a place in San Diego once called “39th Parallel” or something. Their menu was composed of dishes from countries at the same longitude around the world. Think soul food, Moroccan food, and northern Indian food all on one menu.

  • Ben’s Chili Bowl at Reagan. Who wants to sit next to someone at 30,000 feet after they just ate a half smoke with chili?

  • While fictional, I always get a smile remembering a Saturday Night Live skit where the participants were getting ready to open their restaurant called, “Acme, All You Can Eat Liver”. I don’t think any new concept can top that.

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