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Communal Project:

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Joined: 28 Jul 2007
Posts: 381

PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 3:54 am    Post subject: Communal Project: Reply with quote

Narrowing Things Down Alright, I think it has been agreed upon that we have enough ideas for themes. So, now comes the part where we narrow down our choices. The first part of this is tightening the parameters we're working in. The current plan for target audience is rather broad; it could be tightend. In another thread, we have a disscussion of budget and location, control of which I have given over to people who (in contrast to me) know what they are doing.

We can also narrow things down by deciding which catagory of themes we want to work it. Bassically, we have:

Cultural (i.e. chinese tea house, day of the dead)
Fantastical (time, midieval fantasy, sci-fi)
Interests (ie trains, car races)

So, without going into specefic themes, which catagories interest you most?

Posts: 26
(12/2/05 1:23 am)
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New Post themes
I might comment: Instead of starting with a theme, you should start with a story. Smile

And of course frmo the story comes the high concept, then a script and a guest experience overview. If you get those three things plus some concept artwork and you've got yourself a complete bluesky package.

The theme supports the story. But you should probably start with the story and work forwards.

Your story can be as simple as:
"It's a place where...."

Fill in the blanks. What is the story of these restaurants?

Starbucks "It's a place where you can get lots of different blends of great coffee in a warm environment"

McDonalds "It's a restaurant that was started by a guy named Ray Croc who had this dream of making lots of fast food hambuger restaurants."

Trail Dust (Denver) "It's a restaurant where if you go with a tie, they'll cut it off your neck. But if they do they'll tack it to the wall and bring you a drink."

Every place has an inviting story to it. Even if it's not a plot driven story. The story is the 2 sentence description that tells people why they should go there. Think of one friend telling another person why they should go there. The theme naturally comes from that, if there is a theme at all. (sometimes any theme would be "form follows function" and too many themed restaurants haven't grabbed this and have failed miserably.)

Sometimes the story is literal. "This attraction / restaurant / hotel / movie theater tells the story of X" But sometimes it can be summed up in one sentence. If you can get a compelling story, you'll have a success. And of course the food, price, location, and guest service are all important too!

Imagination Portal

Posts: 28
(12/2/05 3:23 pm)
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New Post I'm reminded of... Every restaurant at a Disney park. You don't have a restaurant with a theme but a story that has a theme. For example, The Pirate and the Parrot restaurant in Adventureland (I forget the spanish name for it) But the restaurant plays off the Pirates of the Carribean ride story. The Columbia Harbor House plays off the story of early America. Then the food is designed (for the most part) to fit that genre.

For an Asian story: The restaurant is in an ancient Chinese trading port where Westerners have first discovered the orient and are eager to sample its cuisine and culture.

Or for a Medieval story: the King's castle, which had been closed to commoners, is hosting a feast and everyone in the land is invited to taste the great foods that were previously available only to royalty.

For a Sci-fi story: Your ship has mysteriously docked at a deep space station. You step off and are welcomed by creatures from around the galaxy inviting you to taste thier home world's delicacies. You dare not ask what they are, just eat and enjoy.

Maybe that will get you guys started.

Posts: 117
(12/2/05 5:58 pm)
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New Post Re: I'm reminded of... To a degree, I see what you are getting at. However, it seems that, in this particular case, the two are fairly interchangable.

Take Rainforest Cafe for an example.

The story is that you are eating a meal in the jungle.

The theme is jungle. When combined with the fact that your working on a restauraunt you have "eating a meal in the jungle."

It seems that only when you get to more complex details do you see a bigger difference between the two. It seems like a bad idea to combine "start with" and "more complex"

Maybe I'm missing some distinction, but at this stage, the difference doesn't seem very relevant.

Edit: I do realize that having a theme without a story is empty. However, when your working with two-sentence descriptions, the story and theme seem interchangable.

Edited by: Meloncov at: 12/2/05 6:01 pm
Posts: 50
(12/3/05 7:18 pm)
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New Post audience I really get what you guys are saying about starting with a story.

But what I don't understand is that there are infinite stories!! I would think it would make more sense to start with your audience and a location. Why don't we take "El Pirata y El Perico" as was mentioned earlier. The location and the audience was known. I mean, you wouldn't put a Hooters there.

It just seems rare that someone would come up with the story first and them uproot to find the proper location with an audience that fits. Unless you are Walt Disney. Or just have the money to follow your wildest dreams

I mean, there would still be infinite stories, but at least you would have some direction, you know?

Posts: 118
(12/4/05 1:15 pm)
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New Post Re: audience It seems to me that story and audience quickly turn into a chicken and egg sort of deal. On the one hand, certain themes are innapropriate for certain locations (ie a Hooters at Disneyland). On the other hand, the theme of the restauraunt also serves to determine the audience; the Rainforest Cafe would have a different audience if it had a Nascar theme.

Thus, it seems reasonably realistic to start with only a relative location.

Posts: 29
(12/5/05 12:56 am)
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New Post But I Thought... you weren't discussing budget. Since this is a fictional project why limit yourself with money right from the start. Sure, in the real world it is a real concern but in fiction you can create whatever you want because it doesn't really cost anything.

The whole Hooters at Disney World is absurd which is why the story exists. The story starts by setting your parameters. You are right to an extent in saying that story and theme are interchangable. The theme is contained in the story but the story also sets the entire environment. A Hawaiian themed party, for example, has palm trees, leis, maybe ukelele music and even tiki bars. A Hawaiian story may include those things but has a purpose.

I remember a restaurant here in Florida (they may have been other places but I never saw them) called "Foster's Hollywood". The story was that each guest was to be an extra in a movie and was seated at a movie "set". Throughout the whole restaurant there were many different "sets" around. One was an airplane, one was a jungle outpost, one was an old time saloon, and several others. As the host seated you they would ask you if you've ever had any acting lessons, he tells you a couple of practice lines, calls for lights, and talks to imaginary camera operators. The host tells you "action" and then steps back as you say your lines. Each person felt like they were in a movie. They would even take your picture on the "set". Altogether it was a great idea.

It would be easy to have a Hollywood themed restaurant but this had a story and a purpose. That's the difference between a theme and a story. It was Hollywood from the time you walked in the door to the time you left. If you are going to do a themed restaurant, do it well and do it all the way.

Posts: 31
(12/6/05 12:17 pm)
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New Post story vs themes When I was in high school I wrote a story in which I took one story and re wrote it using several very diffrent themes.

For example when writing a book, the auther almost certainly has a theme in mind such as (Western or sci FI) This is a theme. After having a loosly based the its easier to hang a story on it. I know for a fact that you don't have to have a theme before a story, but for alot of people it just makes it easier.

Where you get in trouble is to overdevelop a theme before writing a story or (Most likely) not do a story at all.

What I think we are seeing on this board are ideas that may be a little to well constructed. It would be better if we just chose a theme like (Western or Sci FI) and then went to work hanging the story.

Posts: 33
(12/9/05 6:17 pm)
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New Post Western and SciFi are not themes. They are genres. They are familiar genres that evoke ideas of certain settings (Out on the range, an 1800s cattle town; space or the future).
A theme is a subject or a main idea that serves as a foundation to build on. both Star Trek and Dances with Wolves have the same theme - exploration as a means of discovering self.
Themed attractions get their name because the overall environment is connected to its theme. Theme parks have an overall theme and are often times divided into sub themes. In turn individual attractions are rooted in those sub themes and stay consistant with those themes throughout.
It works the same with restaurants. The Rainforest Cafe's theme is the role rain forrests play in life. TGIFridays is not a themed restaurant, it's just decorated weird.

Posts: 120
(12/9/05 7:07 pm)
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New Post Re: In the context of fiction, that would be correct. However, I'm not sure that the same definitions go for themed design.

Posts: 46
(12/9/05 11:03 pm)
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New Post i have no clue... Like yellnick said, when I think of themes, I think of things like "love conquers all", or "pride comes before the fall" (the type of theme Will Shakespeare seemed to love... deep flaw = horrible demise).

Although you could say that Western and Sci-Fi are themes, they are very broad things to write a story on. It would seem to make for unfocused writing. Whereas, if you knew that you were writing about love and decided that the setting was the Old West, suddenly your characters and plot begin to fall into place. If, even further, you know that you want your audience to feel despair when they finish reading, you can build your climax in a way that heightens hope and then savagely crushes it.

For theme park rides, the underlying theme might be that the underdog (guest) saves the day (ex. E.T. Adventure). The setting would Earth and E.T.'s planet. The story (experience) is escaping the FBI agents (or police) and saving E.T.'s home world which then throws a party for you. The creators probably decided that they wanted guests to feel happy when they left the ride, so they set-up barriers, and let the guests succeed against the odds and then enjoy the fruitsof that success via fantastical journey to a planet where everyone is happy to see them.

I think a theme is hard for a restaurant, because it generally requires a plot progression...

But as TheWithin said, whatever our setting/theme (or whatever you wish to call it) is, the story should hang on it. I've been told that really great stories fit the time/place that they're set in so well that the two cannot be separated. Who could update Casablanca as a modern story and have it be anything like the original?

Whatever our story is, if it fit the setting/theme so well that the two could not be separated (e.g. you can't suddenly make your medieval restaurant into a Wild West one just by adjusting the theming for the time period), it will probably have enough depth, uniqueness and interest to make it more than just another themed restaurant...

I'm rambling...Good nigh
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