Old El Paso opens pop up diner powered by chat

Mark Johnson's picture

Mexican food brand, Old El Paso has today opens a pop up restaurant in which the diners’ conversation, chat and laughter will be used to power certain elements – including the warming of the tortillas. 

Thought to be the first restaurant in the UK ever to be partly powered by conversation, it uses piezoelectric technology as a basis for the generation of electricity by way of specialist microphones positioned around each individual table. 

The restaurant opens tonight in London's Spitalfields and the concept was created by Grey London, and realised by experiential agency Made Up. 

The more conversation the table engages in, the more electrical volts they produce, which once channelled through collectors will create small amounts of usable electricity.  

Virtual batteries

Virtual batteries at each table will store the power each table is producing. And as the battery fills up and reaches certain voltage levels, it will unlock elements and rewards for the table.

  • Once 250mv are reached, your tortilla will begin to warm
  • At 500mv, a margarita tap will switch on so diners’ can pour themselves a glass
  • At 750mv, the lighting around the table with dim to create a cosy evening atmosphere
  • And at the final level of 1250mv, a confetti cannon is triggered

Fajita Friday

The whole restaurant has been designed and created to fuel conversation on what Old El Paso is naming National Fajita Friday -  a day they want to encourage the nation to sit and eat with their friends and family because a recent poll of 2,500 UK families they conducted found that one in ten families admit that they never sit and share dinner together.

Tortilla talk: Old El Paso campaign conceived by Grey London

If conversation runs out then the battery will stop charging. But help is on hand, Old El Paso said. 

To keep conversation fuelled, there will be a push button at each table which will dispense a card with a conversation starter on it. 

Even the tortillas will have a question laser etched onto them!  

“We are on a mission to get people talking on National Fajita Friday”, Lionel Morgado, Brand Manager, Mexican Food at Old El Paso said. 

“When the family sits together over Mexican it creates happy noise and genuine connections. It is a cuisine that naturally brings people together. 

“Everyone has to roll up their sleeves, dive in with their hands and pass the guac around. It fills your heart as well as your belly!,” he said. 

The poll also revealed that multi-plate meals such as Mexican, increase levels of conversation and heightens ‘happy’ noise as there is often a physicality to these meals which does not occur when everyone eats solely from their own plate. 

“We wanted to create a fun space where friends and family are encouraged, and rewarded for really connecting in a meaningful way with one another over a delicious meal,” concluded Morgado.

There will be prizes for the table which generates the most amount of electricity during the evening.

Open to the public for one night on a first come, first serve basis, the restaurant will serve a starter of loaded nachos, a choice of meat and vegetarian fajitas for main, followed by a dessert, all accompanied by a limited number of alcoholic and soft drinks for free.

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