The Restaurant of the Future’s 10th anniversary went unnoticed last year. Not too surprising, given that this company canteen and research facility for real life nutritional research has not worked out exactly as intended. The research that was done there initially has moved elsewhere. The question now is: should the name be changed?
The Restaurant of the Future opened its doors in Impulse in 2007. © Sven Menschel
WUR started the Restaurant of the Future in Impulse in 2007. At first glance it was a straightforward university canteen but behind the scenes it harboured an advanced research facility with cameras and measuring equipment for studying people’s eating behaviour in a real life setting. Groups of volunteers also took part in taste tests on the first floor of the building. And countless foreign delegations got guided tours of this modern research restaurant.
Today the Restaurant of the Future only exists as a research institute on paper. There are still cameras hanging up in the restaurant but no research has been done there, or upstairs, for two years. The research accommodation has been abandoned by the Agrotechnology and Food Sciences Group (AFSG), the owner of the Restaurant of the Future Foundation. The space has been given back to Facilities and Services, reports Tamara van Rozen, acting director of operations at SFSG. The Science Group has moved its consumer research to Helix, where it has opened a new ‘experience room’. Facilities and Services is looking for a new tenant for the research accommodation at the old location in Impulse. Only the restaurant itself, run by Sodexo, is still going. Research assignments in and above the restaurant have been dwindling in the past few years, making it a loss-making activity for the AFSG’s Wageningen Food & Biobased Research. So the Restaurant of the Future is no longer being run as a research facility. The name has not changed, however, even though it clearly does not fit the bill anymore. Numerous people are giving thought to a new name for the restaurant and it is believed the Executive Board will make a decision on it this year.