Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Make-believe Restaurant

This is a standout lesson for all of us because it teaches us not to believe everything that we read. 

In a time where online disinformation runs riot like weeds in a garden – this story serves as a timely reminder of how easy it is for tricksters and fraudsters to exploit online platforms to sometimes unthinkable outcomes. 

'The Shed at Dulwich' was London's top-rated restaurant and certainly, the hardest to get into. It beat out thousands of upscale restaurants to earn top ranking on TripAdvisor in one of the world’s food capitals and drawing a tidal wave of unimaginable interest. 

There was just one small problem: it didn’t exist. 

'The Shed at Dulwich' was a make-believe restaurant serving pretend food to imaginary customers for fake reviews. And of course, you can’t get a table! 

Actually, it was just a listing created in 2017 by freelance writer, Oobah Butler, who used his home – a shed in Dulwich in south London – as the inspiration for a high-concept new restaurant: “The Shed at Dulwich”. 

He even created a webpage with a menu inspired by moods – a concept “silly enough to infuriate your dad” he wrote – and illustrated it with photographs of artsy looking dishes made out of simple household products like bleach tablets and shaving cream. 

One photo even showed an egg on a plate balancing gracefully off his foot, which was cropped out of the frame. 

Image credit: 

And so, ‘The Shed at Dulwich’ became a massive Internet hit even though no one had ever eaten there. 

But it did open for one night in November 2017, serving ten guests including a couple from California, USA – “to re-create the same psychological space as TripAdvisor”, he told one interviewer. [Note: Butler and a friend prepared a really cheap meal made from instant food – and good reviews predictably accompanied this exclusive dining experience!] 

The restaurant started out in May 2017 as the 18,149th ranked restaurant in the city, i.e. dead last. By November 04 in the same year, it took the top slot and stayed there for four days. 

Super-amazing! This guy had turned an imaginary restaurant into London's most exclusive dining experience on Trip Advisor:

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