Being born with a head of ginger locks can be tough. "Ronald McDonald," "ginger pubes," and "jaffa flaps" are just some of the delightful nicknames to befall red-headed schoolchildren. Adulthood doesn't necessarily signal an end to the jibes, either—nor being unfairly stereotyped as a "feisty red-head."
Aside from worryingly militant-sounding ginger rights groups or your mum telling you to just ignore them, it can seem as if the ginger-haired among us have few places left to turn.
Enter Mark Linakar: the Welsh restaurateur and ginger (albeit with a shaved head) hoping to tackle discrimination with discounted food. Linakar opens his first restaurant, Ginger's Grill, in Prestatyn, North Wales at the end of the month, and plans to give 20 percent off the bill to all red-headed diners.
Astounded by this act of ginger generosity, I gave Linakar a call to find out what prompted him to open a restaurant-cum-sanctuary for the flame-haired community.
MUNCHIES: Hello, Mark. Tell me, why did you decide to open a restaurant giving discounts to red-heads? Mark Linakar: Basically, I came up with the name because I've been called "Ginger" all of my life. It's been an ongoing nickname and I thought "Ginger's Grill" was quite quirky. Then off of the back of that, I thought that maybe we should do something for gingers. You live a life of mockery, whether it's banter or whether it's sometimes aggressive. It happens to everyone that's ginger.
I read a statistic somewhere that 90 percent of ginger kids are bullied in school. So I just thought the discount was nice—something a bit fun and a way of having a laugh, really. When do gingers get anything for being ginger, other than mockery?
If it was the other way around and I was a kid ordering a milkshake in a shop, it would make me so happy to have something positive come from my ginger hair.
It's a beautiful vision. Do you reckon you'll get many non-gingers trying it on, though? Obviously, you've got to draw the line somewhere. Twenty percent is not a measly discount—it's a massive chunk of the margin. So if someone comes along in a ginger wig then it's a bit of a laugh, but you have to be firm. If you spray your hair, the answer will be "No." If you dyed your hair, then the answer's "No." It's only actual gingers.
Fair enough. Do you think there's enough of an incentive for non-red-heads to come to the restaurant? Well, I'll just read the menu to you. The food is spot-on. The location is spot-on. Prestatyn is a tourist town with a decent population.
What will your staff be cooking up at Ginger's Grill? PERi-PERi chicken, like they do at Nando's. We'll be using a lot of the same techniques as them, so it'll be pretty similar. We've also go the same pressure friers as KFC so our fried chicken will be similar to their style. There will also be Bratwurst hot dogs, locally produced six-ounce burgers, sweet potato fries, and milkshakes.
If I was a ginger kid ordering a milkshake in a shop, it would make me so happy to have something positive come from my hair.
Good to know. Are there any foods that gingers stereotypically love? I wouldn't have thought so, y'know—they're just human beings. Who knows, though? I guess we'll find out, won't we? If they're all selecting jerk and ginger-grilled chicken then we'll know something's going on.
Will you be offering any ginger-themed dishes? I've been a bit careful so far and trying to really think about our band. If I was to start "gingering up" everything on the menu, I'd get carried away with it. We do have ideas for the future though—a possible ingredient for our milkshakes is Jamaican ginger cake. We've got ginger beer on the menu already too.
Why did you decide to open the restaurant in Wales? I like going out. I like socialising. I like burgers. I like chicken. I like Nando's and all that sort of stuff. I really like my town—Prestatyn. We don't really have anywhere here that does all of this so I thought it'd be nice to open something for everyone in Prestatyn.
So that was the original idea. The more thought and development I put into it, the more I thought it could be something that we could grow around the North Wales area.
For the sake of the North Wales ginger populace, let's hope so. Thanks for talking with me, Mark!