Food for thought: Yo! Merchandising

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Indy Lifestyle Online
It's no longer just a case of "been there bought the t-shirt". These days, you can acquire the CD, the cruet set, the designer ice-bucket - even the scooter!

Restaurant merchandising started back in the Seventies when no self-respecting visitor could leave the capital without the words "Hard Rock Cafe" emblazoned across their chest - some didn't even bother with queueing for food and headed straight for the sales counter.

Theme restaurants like Planet Hollywood and The Rainforest Cafe have followed suit and now even hip hangouts like Mash and The Met Bar are selling souvenirs.

At Mash, it's bulbous-shaped stainless steel ice-buckets by designer Mark Newsome at a cool pounds 45. At The Met, it's the ashtrays in cast aluminium by United Designers at pounds 15 apiece (though whether this stops people taking the more traditional route and just filching them from the bar remains to be seen).

The most adventurous merchandising menu, however, must belong to Japanese- style conveyor-belt restaurant Yo! Sushi

As well as the traditional t-shirts and watches and the slightly more unusual yo-yos and babygros, they are selling three different kinds of scooters, two off-road electric ones for pounds 650 and pounds 1,900 and a funky one for about town at pounds 3,400 plus VAT.

"The t-shirts are obviously the best-sellers, but we have sold quite a few of the bikes too. In fact, we are looking at extending the range," explains merchandising manager Ray Gange. "I suppose the ultimate would be a helicopter!"

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