The rules of the world and success grew ever more mysterious when freelance writer Oobah Butler tricked the London elite into bargaining for a table at a restaurant that didn’t exist. However, Butler’s wildly audacious project was born of disenchantment. He began his career writing fake TripAdvisor reviews for restaurants. Watching his work turn low performing dens into high-end hotspots led to his realisation that TripAdvisor touted a “false reality”. He grew frustrated at how seriously everyone took the platform but after having spent years thinking, “the only bit of TripAdvisor that is unfakeable is a restaurant itself”… a light bulb illuminated in his head. And the tenacious 25 year old walked out to his back garden to begin visualising his outdoor restaurant, aptly named ‘The Shed at Dulwich”, using this three step guide to make his enormous ruse manifest:
Step 1: Build a website and start uploading pictures of the menu your “restaurant” has on offer, as well as other supporting materials that will get across the ‘vibe’ of your pseudo establishment to prospective customers.
Step 2: Get verified on TripAdvisor and get your friends to start writing reviews of your restaurant. Get your friends’ friends to do the same and keep them rolling out at an appropriate frequency. Think in terms of months.
Step 3: (And this is the cypher) Bolster the illusion of demand by making your restaurant appointment only. Not only does this mean that no one will turn up to blow your whole operation wide open but it plays on the human psychological condition. We all want what few others have. If we can be among the elite few to get it we’ll have the other 99% to laud our low-minded sense of superiority over.
Oobah Butler knew that when one plays the game of thrones, one either wins or is found out and ruined. So he decided to go as far as to open “The Shed at Dulwich” for a press event… before coming clean. His efforts have been immortalised in Vice’s video below.