After building a bit of hype on social media, the October 18 grand opening finally came for Lura. Filling the vacant space on Fountain Street once occupied by Coffee King, Lura seemed to offer everything the hyper-local diner/amateur food critic could ask for – artisinal juices made with gluten free bananas, half-friend organic eggs with vegan local sausage, Euro-Korean kimchi tacos.
If the menu reads as a little too precious you should see the actual restaurant. Social media posts prepped diners for an uber-minimalist aesthetic where, according to facts, people could find a remedy to the "70 percent of students in wealthy communities [who] were not receiving their recommended allowance of Eggs Benedict and fresh-squeezed orange juice."
Then the restauant's opening rolled around. Rick Rolled is more accurate, as it turned out that the whole thing was a goof. One big, perfectly realized goof.
Inside, Lura was still the vacant old Coffee King, complete with all of the dust that's been building up since CK closed. There was no hip new cafe, just the signs of a bunch of merry pranksters having some fun at the expense of foodies and trend-seekers. The prank got the attention of The Atlantic's CityLab and Austria's Eatglobe, and for a good reason; everything from the menu to the restaurant's logo to the cafe's social media presence was a pitch perfect satire. Many had a good sense of humor about it, others not so much. Speaking anonymously, the founders of Lura – which it turns out is Swedish for trick or deceive – spoke with us about why they wanted to have a little fun with foodies.
Providence Monthly: Was the idea for Lura born out of contempt for foodies or more of a curiosity about what attracts people to foodie culture?
Lura: Definitely more the latter. We were interested in millennials' tendency to feed into hype and foodie culture tropes. A couple people on our team are foodies themselves.
PM: That definitely shows. Your menu is too painstakingly specific for any of you not to be a part of the culture you were commenting on. But why foodies? There are a lot of precious social media trends that millennials engage in. What about foodies made the most sense for your team?
Lura: We felt foodie culture was one of the most prevalent of millennial trends. It takes up a massive portion on Instagram and other social media platforms, so it stood out to us. Also, Providence is big on food.
PM: Was the location selected based on its availability or was the fact that Coffee King had been such an unpretentious coffee shop important to you? The juxtaposition of what Coffee King was and what Lura represents is almost too perfect.
Lura: Right, at first it was because it was available and the building itself stood out to us, it was an odd little block in the middle of a parking lot. When we looked into what Coffee King used to be afterwards we found it did make a great contrast to (literally) slap on a representation of hipsterism and the currently prevalent minimal cafe aesthetic.
PM: Given that some of you are foodies, what would be one menu item that you would totally order if Lura was a real coffee shop?
Lura: I'd say the half fried organic egg.
PM: How do you all feel about the response to Lura so far?
Lura: We were pretty surprised to get any response at all, especially from Eater and CityLab, to us it was just a funny project making light commentary. We certainly are glad people enjoyed it, though, save for one Instagram user who was offended by our project.
PM: Foodies can be a little too serious, so I'm surprised more people weren't upset.
Lura: Some people take their birds eye view shots seriously.