Why the "Dormouse Café"?
Numerous people have asked us that.
It *does* seem like rather a weird name for a restaurant, doesn't it?
If you really want to know, here's why:
Ever since we started this Information Service, we've always included a diagram of an "Example Listing" on our site, to demonstrate the comprehensive detail that our Display Listings include.
We do this so that anybody, disabled or otherwise, will know they're going to have sufficient information to make an intelligent, informed decision about whether a particular place might be suitable for them.
Nobody else does it quite that way, but that's what we would want, so that's what we do for you.
We Started With "Real" Examples,
But Reality Kept Changing On Us ...
We used to show examples of what real Listings on our Service looked like for real stores that were actually listed on our Service (usually restaurants, because the highest priority for most people is getting something to eat).
And the examples were always diagrammed and footnoted, pretty much like the example Listing you're looking at now featuring the fictitious "Dormouse Café".
So every few months, we'd pick out one of our advertisers that had a really nice, well thought out Display Listing, create an "example" page that duplicated their actual Listing, and put it up there for awhile.
Only problem with "real" example listings was, reality kept changing.
Unpredictable Human Nature ...
One store we had used as an "example listing" had great graphics showing several of their signature dishes ... but then they remodeled, changed their menu, and didn't serve all that "fancy stuff" anymore.
Our next "example" had included a photo of their dining room manager in their "real" Listing, but they fired her (we don't know why) and asked that we take her photo out of their Listing right away.
We did remove the unwanted photo from their actual Listing on our Service, but forgot to remove her photo from the "example listing" posted on our site. Several months later, when the owner of the store was looking through our site, getting ready to renew his Listing, he saw the smiling face of the woman he had fired, right there on our "example listing" page.
He wasn't all that upset about it, but he was *very* insistent that her photo be taken down immediately.
So we created a new example, featuring yet a different store. And then those people sold their store a few months later, and the new owner turned it into a "disco" which wasn't very barrier-free inside at all.
So we picked out one of the stores from a chain of restaurants listed with us that had been around awhile and had a pretty logo. Figuring that would be "safe," we used that as our new "example."
Within a couple of weeks, we got phone calls from two other similar chains also listed with us, asking why hadn't we used one of *their* stores for our "example." Their food was better than the other place, their stores were nicer, and on and on.
So we decided to create a fictitious restaurant, and use that as our "example."
Is Truth Stranger than Fiction?
Well, Maybe Sometimes ...
Our first "fictitious" restaurant sample was pretty good. We had created a fictitious location in the Washington DC area because that's where our offices were located, and it was pretty easy to check around locally and make sure the name we used wasn't too similar to any of the "real" restaurants in the DC area. We used that one for almost a year. It was an unusual name, and we figured we were safe for awhile.
Then someone in our Legal Department decided to do a nationwide search, and found about 50 independent restaurants and one 30-store chain that were using the exact same name we'd chosen for our "example." So yet another Urgent Memo went out.
And the quest was on, to create a "safe" but suitable fictitious restaurant name, hopefully before somebody at one of those "real" restaurants decided to sue us for trademark infringement or kick us down the stairs or something.
The Creative Process - Duh ...
So we worked late into the night, consuming gallons and gallons of caffeine, trying to come up with what we thought might be an interesting and unusual, but "safe" name that could be used for our fictitious restaurant, and still get the rest of our work done in the meantime.
And we came up with several dozen, or maybe a hundred, wacky names that seemed like possibilities.
But every time we checked, we found that somebody somewhere already had a store by that name.
And then we found that strange little cute antique teapot illustration, and *knew* we had to use it. We even picked out a slogan for our fictitious restaurant, inspired by that illustration.
Tempest in a Teapot ...
Or Was It a Dormouse?
We thought up quite a few "teapot-related" names, but alas, they had all been taken as well by somebody, somewhere. "Tea Room" this, "Teahouse" that, and "Tea Party" something else.
We were beginning to feel trapped in a void, somewhere between the Boston Tea Party and the Teapot Dome Scandal. Some days we even felt like we were stuck in the middle of the Mad Hatter's Tea Party.
(And yes, there are restaurants somewhere in America that have all sorts of names closely related to those three "tea" events also.)
Then suddenly, in one of our late-night brainstorming sessions, somebody said "what about a Dormouse?"
Well, most of us that evening weren't even quite sure what a Dormouse was. Except for the writings of Lewis Carroll, nobody had ever heard of a Dormouse.
We knew all we needed to know about white mice, and gray mice, and brown mice, and black mice, and field mice, and barn mice, and city mice, and country mice, and an assortment of rats, and hamsters, and gerbils, and a really famous movie star mouse named Mickey.
But we didn't know much about any Dormouse, or Dormice, or Dormouses.
If you've read Alice in Wonderland, or seen one of the movies, you may recall that the Dormouse was the character at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party who kept falling asleep and finally got dunked in the teapot. And that was what had prompted the association with our teapot illustration.
For the record, the Dormouse (Muscardinus avellanarius) is one of Britain's most endangered mammals, rodent or otherwise. If you want to read about Dormice before they're all gone, click HERE.
The Dormouse Was the Answer!
So we checked America's business listings again, and found that nobody had named any type of business we could find after a Dormouse. Of course not. We don't have Dormice in the United States.
(Then again, we don't have kangaroos or penguins here either, except in zoos. However, several businesses in the U.S. do have kangaroo- and penguin-related names. Go figure.)
And now you know the whole story. And probably more than you ever wanted to know about Dormice.
If you found this entertaining, informative or amusing, feel free to e-mail us about it if you like. Perhaps we'll write back. Perhaps we'll even throw a Tea Party in your honor. Bring your own Dormouse.
But right now, you really do have to get back to reading about how to use our Information Service ... because that was what you originally came here to do, wasn't it?