There are certain cross-cultural no-nos when it comes to designing, naming and theming a restaurant, the primary among them being, don't associate your restaurant in people's minds with things that taste bad, and things you should under no circumstances eat. Poison, for instance, makes a good band name but a terrible restaurant name. (See example at left.) A close second, in my book, is death, dying or dead people -- I've always found it extremely weird when people put out little snacks and coffee at funeral parlors, for instance. I'm near dead people; I don't want anything in my mouth. But just as with every seemingly hard-and-fast rule, there are people out there to break them; much to our amazement there are not one but several restaurants that trade on death as a theme.
Nestled at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains -- home, not inappropriately, to Dracula's Castle -- is Ukraine's newest eatery, Eternity. The building itself is fashioned in the shape of a giant coffin, 20 meters by 6 meters, and decorated on the inside with wreath displays and, naturally, more coffins. Its dishes sport mysterious titles like "Nine Days," "Forty Days" and "Let's Meet in Heaven," the third of which seems a foregone conclusion after you've ingested the first two. Apparently its owners are hoping to get into the Guinness Book as the world's largest coffin. (I guess there's no category for "grossest restaurant," or they'd win that one hands-down.)
The "Lucky" Hotel
Amazingly, "Eternity" isn't the world's only death-themed restaurant. There's another one in Ahmedabad, India, the key difference being that in this eatery, the coffins aren't just there for display -- there are dead people in 'em. 22 Muslim tombs rest between the tables, which waiters hop over while making their way around the restaurant. So what's on the menu? What else -- Indian food.
The Heart Attack Grill
Tempe, Arizona's Heart Attack Grill has a motto -- "taste worth dying for." With fanciful offerings like "flatliner fries" cooked in pure lard and the "quadruple bypass burger," at least you know what you're getting -- and if you can finish the whole burger, which contains a whopping 8,000 calories, the waitresses -- dressed like sexy nurses -- reward you with a ride to your car ... in a wheelchair. That "nurse" bit got the restaurant in trouble with the Arizona board of nurses -- a controversy that this very non-pc establishment relished, to be sure. Here's a silly news piece on the kerfluffle: