A Visit From Bill Clinton: The Key to Restaurant-World Success?

Our 42nd president has been famous and infamous for many things, not least of which is his appetite. In years past, he drew attention for his love of a good hamburger; more recently, his health-motivated turn to veganism caused a stir.

But what's really remarkable, The New York Times reports, is the Bill Clinton Restaurant Bump. The former president is a restaurateur's dream, capable of transforming an obscure diner into a culinary destination. People allegedly follow his appetite in droves, often requesting the table he sat at and asking about what he ate. Clinton's choice of restaurant—which is often arbitrary, the article reveals—sets off a chain reaction, especially overseas:

But when it comes to Bill Clinton and overseas restaurants, the upside is on a far greater scale. Managers and owners from Beijing to Iceland and points between say an appearance by Mr. Clinton can be transformational, launching an obscure restaurant to fame and cementing the reputation of well-known favorites. Best of all, the imprimatur seems to last for years.

"We had 25 people from Sweden in here last night," says Detlef Obermuller, owner of Gugelhof, a Berlin restaurant that was host to Mr. Clinton and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2000.

"I asked one of them, 'How do you know about this place?' " Mr. Obermuller said. "And she took out a newspaper clipping out of her pocket. I can't read Swedish, but she told me it was all about Bill Clinton eating here. And that meal was a decade ago."

Not that Mr. Obermuller has forgotten any of the details. He and his staff were given a mere 20-minute heads-up by German security before Mr. Clinton and company arrived. News of the dinner then spread quickly on radio and television, and by the time dessert was served, a crowd of 2,000 had gathered on the sidewalk to greet the man who had declared "Berlin is free!" in a 1994 speech before the Brandenburg Gate.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

Presented by

John Hendel is a writer based in Washington, DC, and a former producer at The Atlantic.

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