Risk management: Tips from Bunyadi, London's first naked restaurant

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So the waiting list for London’s first naked restaurant has gone through the roof. The Bunyadi opens in June 2016 for three months and claims to offer diners an experience “free and unadulterated from the trappings of modern life” including phones, electric lights and even clothing. According to a press release, the naked themed menu includes vegan and omnivore dishes made with all-natural ingredients and cooking methods, served on handmade clay plates, with edible cutlery.

Image Promo Image credit: The Bunyadi

While I can certainly appreciate the appeal of a phone-free eatery and “unprocessed” tasting menu, I have some reservations about getting my kit off and tucking into a hot meal in a candlelit room full of strangers. For starters, I’m a bit of a butterfingers. Still, according to the Bunyadi website, there are over 36,000 people – and counting - who are very much up for dining in the buff.

The Bunyadi’s impressive sign up stat proves that, actually, as a human-centred design (HCD) researcher, I really should know better. Just because a near never-nude like me wouldn’t spend fifty-odd pounds for the displeasure of dining out in my birthday suit, so what? I am not the intended user of this service. The Bunyadi is not for me and I am not for The Bunyadi. And that’s perfectly OK. There are, it seems, plenty of people who do want in. Hats (and clothes) off to the founders of Bunyadi – clearly you know your market. And that’s the point.

In ‘The Practitioner’s Guide to Product Management’, Jock Busuttil points out that: “Leaping into the creation of a product on gut instinct alone, without doing research and rigorously putting your assumptions to the test, is the business equivalent of driving blindfolded.” And yet, how often has “a budding entrepreneur” on the Dragon’s Den sunk their life savings into a business venture only to be stumped by the question about what proof they have that their business model will succeed?

To avoid wasting time and money building a product or service that nobody wants, a new business idea needs some form of market validation. Of course, 36,000 email addresses indicating an interest in purchasing a ticket does not in itself guarantee Bunyadi’s commercial success. But it’s a good start. And a relatively quick and low-cost way of testing the water.

Although there will always be a level of uncertainty and risk associated with the launch of a new product or service, risk can be reduced. How? By minimising guesswork about your target market. In other words, by gaining a deep understanding and empathy for the people that will use your product, along with knowledge about competitor offerings and developments in consumer trends.

PlanView Image credit: The Bunyadi

Again, Bunyadi seems to have its finger on the pulse of trends in the food and restaurant industry. First, there’s the continued popularity of experiential dining (where people are attracted to the theme and uniqueness of the experience beyond the menu), and the shift to more casual restaurant environments. (How much more experiential or casual than eating out at a pop-up naked restaurant does it get?!). Then there’s the growing demand for “clean” food that some consumers consider to be more nutritious, pure and good for you by virtue of being free of preservatives and chemical additives. 

TablesImage credit: The Bunyadi

As a service though, it could also be useful to map the user journey for a Bunyadi customer ahead of opening the restaurant. This visual document would capture the customer experience and – importantly – identify any customer pain points. Given the look of the rustic log stools designed for seating diners, I suspect a journey map may also expose a few bare truths about dining in the raw.


PDD’s Human-Centred Design (HCD) training programme will teach you a flexible framework for practicing the discipline of Human-Centred Design to drive innovation and reduce the risks associated with launching a new product or service.

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Katrina

About Katrina

Title: Senior Consultant - Research
Languages spoken: English and Greek.
The last thing that inspired me: ‘The Perfect Meal: The Multisensory Science of Food and Dining’ by Charles Spence & Betina Piqueras-Fiszman.
My dream project: A sleep-dream-video type device that could record and playback your dreams.
My obsession: Detail.

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