Sub Rosa, a virtual restaurant created by Douglas County native Mike Sherwood, is online at www.subrosa.arbre.us.
DUNDEE -- Mike Sherwood
is gaining recognition for creating a restaurant that doesn't actually exist.
The Douglas County native, now living in Dundee, developed a menu, wine list and even musical accompaniment.He
restaurant Sub Rosa.
Customers can't eat any food there, however.The wine list describes Sherwood's actual wine cellar, but no one can order any of it.
It's not that the service stinks, it's just that there are no servers.
Yet, somehow, Sherwood's
restaurant has been featured in newspapers in Portland and Seattle, as well as various culinary publications.Maybe it's because Sub Rosa
, a "virtual restaurant," attracts about 3,000 unique visitors a month.Sub Rosa
isn't a restaurant in the traditional sense, or in any sense, really.It's a Web site.
"Some of my friends will go on it and be, like, 'I don't get it'," Sherwood
, 51, said. Sherwood
built the Web site using his
wife's recipes, their wine collection and added personal music selections that users can download.It was all done as a learning exercise in the Internet language HTML.Sherwood
needed the additional practice so that he
could better serve customers of his
business, Arbre Wine Marketing.Sherwood
started the sales and marketing firm for wineries and technology companies in 2002. His
virtual restaurant experiment unexpectedly caught on, however.He
got the name Sub Rosa from "The Da Vinci Code," which used that name referring to secret societies.
"The concept of a secret, private eatery that's just for them, that only they know about ... that has really caught people's imagination," Sherwood
even received e-mails from people wanting to make reservations at the "actual" Sub Rosa.
"Some people believe it's real," he
even spawned a new job for Sherwood
.The owners of AvalonWine.com viewed his
site and liked it so much they offered him a job writing about food and wine for their site.
Even without any professional journalism experience -- though he
did cause a stir with some satirical articles in Roseburg High School's Orange R before graduating in 1971 -- Sherwood
couldn't pass up the opportunity.
"They pay me and they give me wine to write about," he
said."This is a good job."
It's just another in a string of professions he's
taken on.Sherwood's been in and out of the computer software industry and was executive director of the Oregon Brewers Guild for five years.He
even paid his
way through college by setting chokers in the woods along the North Umpqua River.Sherwood
way back to Douglas County several times a year to visit his
also attends the Guest Chef and Winemaker Dinner Series at Steamboat Inn
..."Mike is an extremely creative fellow who, left alone in a prison cell in the Sudan, could entertain himself ... by his thought process," he said. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
took an offbeat approach to the site, reviewing it as an actual restaurant.A sample reads, "Overall, Sub Rosa's offerings were among the most refreshing we can recall in recent restaurant reviews, in part due to their utter lack of caloric load."
While there is a following that would like Sub Rosa to jump out of the virtual world and into the real one, Sherwood
not interested in running a real restaurant. He
wife entertain a lot and that's about as close as he
wants to get.Plus, Sub Rosa
, as it is, never closes.
"It's so much more fun to just put the food we love up there (on the Web)," he