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Death Row-Themed Restaurants Refuse to Die

A new cafe in the U.K. is drawing criticism for its theme.


Just a few weeks after a Death Row-themed dinner series was canceled amidst controversy (and death threats), a new establishment referencing capital punishment has opened in the U.K. The Liverpool Echo reports the Death Row Dive n Diner opened in the city last week, drawing some criticism for its theme and decor, which includes mug shots, cage-like structures, and poetry in red neon. (Its menu features sections called "No Regrets" and "Hard Time," but thankfully does not re-create inmates' actual last meals, as per the earlier, unaffiliated pop-up.)

Death Row Diner owner Rob Gutmann responded to the criticism with a statement posted on the diner's official website, arguing that the restaurant aimed to "create something a bit surreal" in direct response to the "crazy incongruous ritual" of the last-meal rite. "We do think the idea of the state granting someone the basic mercy of a last meal before murdering them to be a bizarre and ludicrous contradiction," he writes. "To have enough humanity and compassion to give them a last treat, but not to not then kill them. Insane stuff." The dreamlike decor is thus meant as an artistic statement, Gutmann argues, pointing out the "poetry and quotes in neon" and portrait of Jesus that also hang in the restaurant.

The restaurant opened last week and is apparently doing brisk business: According to a Facebook post, the "restaurant [was] packed to the rafters tonight." Ultimately, Gutmann poses the question: "Did we consider this idea might make many feel uncomfortable? Yeah, we definitely did. Didn't think that was a problem though. We thought once they got inside us, they'd get what we were doing and what kind of people we were."

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