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Beyond the Ordinary: Secret Dining Clubs

It's time for those tired of being stuck in the rut of their daily routines to break free from the ordinary and embark on a real adventure. You've been invited to a dinner one evening, but you'll have no idea who you'll be dining with, where it will take place, or what to expect. These new types of dining experiences are ideal for those who want to venture into the unknown. In this article, we'll explore how dining is merging not only at a table but into an adventure and how next-generation dining experiences have become a trend.

Secret dining clubs are dining establishments that operate based on private invitations or reservations. They are typically known for their unusual concepts, special menus, and elements of secrecy. These exclusive dining experiences, known as "supper clubs" in America and "underground restaurants" in the UK, go beyond the ordinary restaurant experience, offering guests unique moments.

Underground dining clubs began with the Cuban "Casa Particulars" in 2001 but didn't spread globally until around 2010. Some of these establishments are home-based, and the legality of this varies. This adventure is likely not yet legal outside of California, but it could follow a legalization process similar to Airbnb. But why is it not legal?

Nearly every state or city requires any establishment serving food to the public to have some form of food license. To obtain this food license, you probably need to have access to a licensed commercial kitchen where you prepare the meals. Additionally, in every city and state, any establishment serving alcohol will need a special and likely expensive liquor license. Even if a restaurant operates under a "Bring Your Own Bottle" policy, it still needs an alcohol license. Secret dining clubs are essentially bypassing this rule, which is one reason they remain secretive. Some do it to open a restaurant at lower costs, while others do it to offer a unique experience under the anti-restaurant concept. The profit margin, expenses, and operation costs are lower compared to an open establishment, but it's more exclusive. Photography and discussing the experience are usually prohibited at these underground dining clubs. Access is granted through tickets, private invitations, or some form of password, but there are also websites like 'Bonappetour' that make it easier to access and reserve these restaurants.

You won't know what you'll eat or who you'll eat with; it's a complete surprise. Even if you go with a friend, you'll likely be seated separately and placed in front of other people. These rules are in place to encourage socializing and learning new stories. Nergis, who hosts an underground dining club, even mentions in an interview that two people got married because of these experiences.

There are known examples of these in our country as well. 'Secret Dining,' organized in Karaköy, Istanbul, and produced by Duygu Öztürk, was the first project of its kind in Turkey. En Route is another example where you embark on a journey to Istanbul on a train that departs from Paris in 1893. While enjoying delicious meals prepared by Rudolf Van Nunen, the chef at Rudolf Karaköy, a soprano lady entertains you on the journey. Similar experiences can be found in many cities worldwide. In Hong Kong, you can listen to the host's stories in Haynes' home, in New York, you can explore the works of French artist Toma-L, or in England, you can participate by rescuing a princess. However, finding these places isn't as easy as one might think. Some are hidden inside an ice cream parlor, while others may be concealed behind a comic book store. Here's to embarking on new adventures and discovering amazing flavors. Until the next article...



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