The Butter Trough

Eat. Drink. Free. Come on down and see the worlds First 100% Advertisement Supported Restaurant.
This is The Butter Trough, located in Atlanta, GA, whose offerings include a multitude of bread products, freshly made sweet tea, and, of course, butter - hot, melty butter. The best part - it's all free, thanks to the support of advertisers in the Atlanta area, whose pitches surround your dining experience in the form of speakers, television sets and multimedia displays scattered throughout the restaurant.

Sounds great, but is it real?

My first instincts tell me it's not, before any Googling at all. (Wait, sorry Google. I mean searching on Google.) Why? Well, there're some Ads by Google for starters. That's not normal for a business. It almost makes sense, though, as they claim to be advertisement-supported. Wait, I mean Advertisement Supported, sans hyphen. A mistake already? In the second line of text on the site? Hmm. Fishy. And "worlds"? And inconsistent capitalization in what seems to be their call-line? Not looking good, folks. We might not ever get that sumptuous, free butter after all.

The image on the main page (as well as the ones on subsequent pages) looks like a stock photo - and pretty low quality, as though the designer just downloaded the comp image without paying. Sure, lots of people do this, and maybe the company is so small they don't know any better - but...seriously? They can't afford a disposable camera to take a picture of the restaurant? They're located in Atlanta and can't find a friend or relative or advertiser even who would take a picture? Wouldn't their sponsors want to be on the website, too?

This is all to ignore the fact that The Butter Trough's site looks nothing like a restaurant website. Everybody knows the First Rule of Restaurant Web Presence, which is:
Thou shalt design your website in Flash.
But wait! You can buy merchandise for The Butter Trough on Cafe Press! That's legit, ain't it? Curious.

So with all this in mind, I did a simple Google Search (happy, guys?). First on the list is, happily, The Butter Trough's own website. That's pretty sweet for them. That is, it's sweet if anyone ever searches for "butter trough." I wonder how often that happens. Perhaps I should check my list of AOL Searches to see when I have some spare time.

Next, however, things turn bad for our prospects of free bread and butter and tea. The second result is a link to a page from the Museum of Hoaxes website. The author there feels the same way about the site, and has done some added research. She (or He) has done a Google Maps Search for the address (6346 Lynch Avenue), and it doesn't exist. This is backed up by a couple people who left comments.

And in what is arguably the most interesting development in this sequence of events, the author of the Museum of Hoaxes article says:
I'm guessing that the Butter Trough site was created by Joseph Donaldson, because a) Joseph Donaldson's homepage is hosted on the same server as The Butter Trough site and b) he links to the Butter Trough. A few other sites (all of which link to the Butter Trough as well) hosted on that server include: Circus of the Damned, and the Just Ducky Guild. (Thanks to Doug Nelson for the link)
Seriously, guys, you absolutely must check out those links. Starting with the first one. No fair skipping to the second or third. You've gotta do it in order. You'll regret it if you didn't.

The Butter Trough, sadly fictional, I can safely say, has somehow managed to become listed in several directories (including a list of restaurants near the Global Learning and Conference Center at Georgia Tech). Nice work, TBT. Now, if maybe you applied all your work designing and promoting a fake business to actually securing advertising support and turning your dream (and my dream, and many others' too) into a reality, we'd be getting somewhere.

Until then, I'll be working to figure out why the hell the New York Times pretended to publish an article about butter (but actually about trans fats) this week. Note: You must register with the NYT to view this, and do so soon, before it becomes archived. It's free until that happens.

To close, because this is becoming an epic "review" of a fake restaurant, I'll briefly touch on the concept of a 100% ad-supported restaurant. Is this even possible? Sure, and maybe it's actually the future. Spiral Frog sure hopes so.