Twins: The Mid-'90s NYC Restaurant Staffed Entirely By Identical Twins

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New York City was a magical place in the '90s. Rent was affordable, the Village was still weird, and fountains were full of dancing young urbanites. The most magical thing of all, though, was the fact that you could go to a restaurant staffed entirely by identical twins.

Opened in 1994, Twins Restaurant was located on the Upper East Side. Its staff consisted of 29 sets of identical twins who worked as hostesses, bartenders, waiters, and waitresses. It was owned by Lisa and Debbie Ganz (identical twins) and Tom Berenger (there is only one Tom Berenger). In fact, there were only two nontwins who worked there full-time: the chef and the general manager.

When Twins opened, Lisa Ganz told People, "It took us only two weeks to find enough twins to work here. We've had twins quit their full-time day jobs to work here. It's not about money—it's about the twin thing." Employees had to work at the same time and wear the same outfit, and if one called out sick, the other twin was forced to take the day off. If your twin got fired at Twins, that meant you got canned as well. Twins giveth, and Twins taketh away.

The New York Times' Ruth Reichl was a fan, writing, "Twins sounds like a pretty silly gimmick. Until you get there. When you are greeted at the door by two gorgeous and identical hostesses, then glance at the bar to find two identical men pouring drinks, the idea begins to grow on you."

The menu was full of twin-themed dishes like Twin Peaks nachos, twin burgers, and Paté Duke platter (Patty Duke had an "identical cousin," not a twin, but some puns are too good to eschew). According to Reichl, the best item on the menu was the cheese fondue, "which arrives bubbling over a fire and surrounded by cubes of bread, tiny hot dogs, curly fries and pieces of broccoli."

If you and your twin dined at the restaurant, you'd be treated to two-for-one drinks. The Ganzes claim they met "over 100,000 sets of multiples" during the five years they ran the restaurant, a place they call "a shrine for multiples around the world." But alas, like the Statue of Zeus at Olympia before it, this shrine wouldn't last forever—Twins closed in 2000. Although there have been rumblings of a new incarnation in Times Square, Twins 2 has yet to materialize.

Last year, a restaurant opened in Moscow called Twin Stars that was also staffed entirely by twins. However, Lisa Ganz complained that, not only had Twin Stars stolen their concept, but the eatery also "only has fraternal twins." A restaurant that only has fraternal twins? Now that's just weird.

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July 3, 2014 - 9:00am
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