Le­banese-founded Paris nud­ist restau­rant shuts down

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - LEBANON -

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.” –

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