project image
Josh Meyer

first performed on January 14, 2020
Lisa's backyard guest house
performed five times in 2020


Josh Meyer, Lisa Laratta, Matt Hislope

Austin, TX


“Rubber Repstaurant” was a free pop-up restaurant that served one guest per day. It came from an impulse to create a restaurant without a menu—one that explored the gifts of solitude. Accidentally prescient of the year ahead.

Each guest was asked to arrive at 4 pm and leave their phone in the car. I then escorted them to a one-room backyard guest house containing only a wooden arm chair, a lamp, and a small table with a tape player and stack of cassettes (Mannheim Steamroller, Linda Ronstadt, Lionel Richie, etc.).

I took their drink order and left the room. When I returned with their drink, I asked, “Do you know what you’ll be having this evening?”

The guest would often stammer a bit and ask if there’s a menu.

“It’s an open menu,” I replied.

The guest’s order—anything, everything—was taken into the main house where we formulated recipes and made a plan. Two of us then rushed off to the grocery store to buy needed ingredients.

After the guest had been sitting alone in the room for 30 or 40 minutes, Lisa delivered a letter. “I was just going through the mail, and there’s a letter for you.”

(In the week preceding each performance, we’d secretly collected a series of meaningful letters from the guest’s close friends and/or family. They were fabricated to appear as if they’d been sent to the house.)

So the guest was left to sit alone with the letter. And eventually another arrived. And then maybe two more. During this time, we prepared their meal in the kitchen of the main house or once on a neighbor’s backyard grill. Depending on what they ordered, this took one to three hours.

Eventually, a small wooden tray-table was brought to them with paper, envelopes, pens, and postage. “Since you’re getting all this mail, we thought you might want to write back while you wait.”

And then, before too long, dinner was served. Lovingly prepared and plated. Our attempt to provide an ideal version of whatever they wanted.

After dinner, I cleared their plates and asked, “Will you be having any dessert this evening?” This time there was no choice. If the guest asked for dessert, they were invited to join us for roasted marshmallows around an already-blazing backyard fire. The experience of solitude ended in community.