From gastropubs to dinerants

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Pete Karpinski is a good guy.  He's a smart guy and a talented guy and a smirkingly, playfully evil guy when it comes to designing and launching certain types of restaurants.  From his post on the restaurant side of the Sage Hospitality Group's corporate structure, he has brought to Denver both works of devious art (The Corner Office) and works of something less than art (Second Home).  But now, he has done something far out of this market that  has left me both overjoyed and pissed off.

In Portland, Oregon, he and his Sage peeps have opened a restaurant called simply The Original (which was written up yesterday in The Moment, one of the New York Times blogs) that serves, among other things, lobster corn dogs, poutine (one of the greatest food inventions of all time -- look it up if you don't believe me), shrimp-and-grits, duck-and-waffles, and a cheeseburger served inside a sliced and butter-grilled donut. I want to go there. Now.  I want to eat virtually every single thing on the menu, all at once, and not come up for air, ever.

The part that pisses me off, though, is how he's referring to the place. It's been tagged "a Dinerant" -- as in, a diner and a restaurant, together. Get it? Like a diner, only serving a better quality of food, a more creative board, like a restaurant might?  Ain't he clever?

No. Gastropub was bad enough, and I've already made all the arguments against the use of that term that I care to make. But Dinerant is even worse. A diner is a diner and a restaurant is a restaurant and a pub is a pub and everyone needs to stop making up ridiculous new words for things right now because it doesn't make you sound clever or original, it makes you sound stupid.  It also fails completely in getting across any kind of point. People won't see "dinerant" and think, "Oh, that must be a diner serving a better quality of food than the greasy spoon down the way," because "dinerant" is a made-up word that doesn't mean anything.

Don't get me wrong: I like the idea of The Original. But we've got two (soon to be three) places like it here in Denver already with Steuben's and Snooze. Neither of them had to make up a word to describe what they were doing.  All they had to do was do it and shut up about it.

So yeah, love the idea, hate the semantic butchery.  Because frankly, when you're serving something like a cheeseburger mashed between two halves of a Voodoo Donut (famous to those in Portland, and loved with something approaching religious fervor), you don't really have to call yourself anything but open.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


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