Taipei diner's Jurassic theme helps avoid extinction

Tue Jun 9, 2009 1:53am EDT
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By Ralph Jennings

TAIPEI (Reuters Life!) - A dark but never empty restaurant in Taipei has avoided extinction over two decades of ever-changing food fads and themes by standing by its dinosaurs.

The three-storey Jurassic Restaurant packs hundreds of patrons a night into cavernous halls alongside 6-meter (19 ft) long dinosaur skeletons, some with gaping mouths big enough to swallow a beer keg.

Dinosaurs may have gone extinct millions of years ago, but their appeal lives on, said restaurateur Huang Pei-song.

"Because dinosaurs don't exist, everyone will say 'wow, look at these'," Huang said.

Jurassic Restaurant, named after a era some 135 to 203 million years ago when dinosaurs such as Diplodocus roamed earth, opened in 1988 as most Taipei bars were relying on American "Wild West" themes, which have since gone out of fashion.

The original owner was also a Jurassic junkie.

Today, the place competes with restaurants that specialize in hospital, airliner and toilet decor in a country that seems obsessed with theme diners.

The restaurant can seat up to 500 people, including some in private rooms lined with black fiberglass rock. Restroom taps are shaped like Tyrannosaurus Rex heads, as are the handsets on the house pay phones.   Continued...

<p>Customers toast in front of a dinosaur decoration at a theme restaurant in Taipei, June 5, 2009. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang</p>