Underground restaurants in St. Louis: how bored are Americans?

Food pornography is nothing new. Neither are so-called underground restaurants. That the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks both may be new and newsworthy may help explain the decline of American newspapers (and look at that cool arm decal in this pic from the Post, right, below).

Although underground restaurants have been popping up around the country for several years, this incarnation, launched last summer, appears to be the first of its kind in St. Louis.

Diners learn about an upcoming monthly dinner only through word of mouth. They sign up on a website using a pass code. On the day of the dinner, they get an e-mail telling them where to go. Sometimes it’s a private house; other times, it’s a rented space. …

Health department officials in the St. Louis area say underground restaurants violate health codes because they lack the proper inspections and permits.

"Even if a church sets up a buffet for a charity event, they need a permit," said Craig LeFebvre, a spokesman for the St. Louis County Health Department.

If someone invites friends to a private dining event in St. Louis County, they’re not violating any laws. But if they put up any signs — including a website — and the event is open to a paying public, they need a permit, explained Gerrin Cheek Butler of the county’s health department.

The chef, who asked not to be identified, said,

"The whole thing is an experience. It’s not just this consumer thing, where you show up, order, and get pushed out the door an hour later."

Correct. It’s a way to charge a premium for porn.