It's not often that you walk into a restaurant and are greeted with the words – 'our drinks and bakeries are guaranteed not to cause pregnancy.'
Welcome to the 'Cabbages and Condoms' – a condom-themed restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand.
A visit to the restaurant, dedicated to the cause of birth control, would definitely pique your interest.
The complex, comprising four restaurants, offers some lip-smacking dishes. But what sets the restaurant apart from the rest is the presence of condoms all over the place – wall hangings, ceiling, mannequins, and lampshades.
Souvenir shop on...
As you enter the green complex with lots of trees, you will come across the board that says 'Coffee, Bakery and Condoms' with the tagline assuring that the food and drinks would not cause pregnancy.
A corridor stretches ahead. Walk along and you reach a souvenir shop with a girl's mannequin put up outside. The girl's t-shirt reads 'A condom a day keeps pregnancy away...'
Like any other store, the shop is filled with several objects from key chains to t-shirts. But all of these objects emphasise on one point – the need for condoms. And are therefore mostly made of condoms.
Bouquets made with different colours of condoms, handicrafts, t-shirts explaining the importance of condoms, posters on condoms, and different types of condoms found in various parts of the world. Truly, an amazing world of condoms.
Several pictures have been pasted on the wall opposite the souvenir shop with many books kept on the ground below. The poster put up next to these explains the objective of the unique restaurant – " We conduct business for social development. The profit we make here is used to fund the education of the villagers at the grass-roots level, environment and health protection."
Initiative by safe-sex activist
The owner of Cabbages and Condoms, Mechai Viravaidya, uses the earnings for his institutions for social welfare activities. The 79-year-old is a prominent political leader in Thailand. A safe-sex activist, he had played an important role in spreading awareness about Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
He also founded the Population and Community Development Association (PDA) to better the lives of villagers.
He then came up with the idea of a condom-themed restaurant. This restaurant is also part of the fight against AIDS.
Why the name
Cabbage is the most common vegetable in Thailand, which is also known as the sex capital of the world. These two aspects of the land were coined to name the restaurant 'Cabbages and Condoms.'
A board has been installed at the entrance of the restaurant that pictorially shows how to engage in safe sex. 'Condom please' has been written all over the place. Then you see photos of condoms used in various parts of the world.
Look up and you will see a lampshade, again made of condom.
Two statues of a girl and a boy, dressed in multicolour, greet you as you enter the restaurant. Get up close and you see that the colourful attires of the statues have been made with multicolour condoms. The dress and accessories on the statues are all made of condoms.
A Santa Claus, also decked up with condoms, stands on one side of the restaurant. Flanking the Santa Claus on either side is a child and a dog, both made of condoms. The main restaurant is at an open courtyard.
Several lights, shaped to resemble big condoms, are left hanging from ropes. You may mistake them for decoration lamps and a second glance is needed to ascertain the condom connection.
Bang opposite to the restaurant is the bar, Captain Condom. The lights at the bar are also decked up with condoms.
About 400 people can have food at a time at these four restaurants.
At the AC restaurant, different types of condoms in various colours have been put up on exhibit along with their countries of origin.
Condoms are also used to make floral carpets on the table.
Menu leaves out the condom
While picking up the menu, some may wonder if the dishes would be listed as condom 65 or condom fry. But the makers have thoughtfully left out the food from the concept of the themed restaurant.
The restaurant is a bit on the expensive side. At one end of the open-air restaurant, a stage has been set up for cultural activities. The indigenous art forms of Thailand are performed twice a week here.
And while waiting for the balance after paying the bill, don't be surprised if you get some condoms instead of loose change. Like how some desi restaurants give away toffees to cover up for the meagre balance, the restaurant believes in giving more meaningful objects.
The condom trivia follows you right up to the exit.
Instead of mint or sugar-coated cumin in glass bowls, you will find a big board that says 'Sorry, we have no mints, take a condom instead.' Condoms of different sizes are kept in the boxes with interesting names such as democracy size, politician size, and military size.
Viravaidya definitely deserves a round of applause for this unique idea to spread awareness on the need of using condoms.
More condom-themed restaurants
After the success of Cabbages and Condoms, Viravaidya has started 17 condom-themed restaurants in Thailand.
He has also gone international by opening Cabbages and Condoms restaurant in Cheltenham and Oxford Square in UK.