Lebanese-founded Paris nudist restaurant shuts down
BEIRUT: Paris’ first nudist restaurant is set to close after failing to pull enough customers.
O’naturel, run by twins of Lebanese origin and based in the French capital’s 12th Arrondissement, opened to great fanfare in November 2017 but has struggled to keep it up.
“We’re shutting down because we didn’t have enough clients. We would have preferred this adventure to go on longer … We had a great start; now it’s best we close,” said 43-yearold Stephane Saada, a former insurance salesman who co-founded the restaurant with his brother Mike.
The brothers opened the restaurant hoping to tap into the promising market of France’s reported 2.7 million practicing naturists. While the country has around 460 designated outdoor nudist spots, options for the winter months are sparse, and the restaurant’s website stated it offered “the pleasure of dining naked all year in the capital in respect of naturist values.”
The establishment set strict rules to put customers at ease: Phones and cameras were required to be left in a locker at the entrance – along with all the customers’ clothes. The staff, however, was clothed, which the Saada brothers, who are not nudists themselves, said was in compliance with French law.
Customers were initially impressed: Yves Leclerc, president of the French Naturist Federation, told Agence France Presse shortly after the restaurant opened, “it’s like when we’re on holiday, but it’s even better,” noting with dismay that at his coastal home of Leucate, “I have to put my clothes on to go to a restaurant.”
The nudist restaurant business appears particularly cutthroat: O’naturel lasted longer than the Bunyadi, a nudist pop-up restaurant in neighboring London that lasted three months.
Nevertheless, the Saada brothers insisted they would look back on the experience fondly, saying in a Facebook post: “We will only remember the good times, meeting beautiful people and customers who were delighted to share exceptional moments.” –