Customers Wait 2 Months To Eat Off Of Shovels At This Welsh Restaurant

Humans use shovels for a whole lot of things: snow removal, shoveling horse manure, for planting a garden, or for creating a place for fenceposts or coffins. In other words, to hoist loose things from one spot to another or to dig holes. There's even a scolding admonition in reference to the handy tool that says "Stop shoveling food in your mouth!" But what happens when that metaphorical saying takes on a physical incarnation? It seems to have done just that at a tiny bistro in the United Kingdom.

Though restaurants with quirky attributes are nothing new, the roots of the neighborhood restaurant located in the South Wales village of Cwmgwrach, The Mine Bistro, dig much deeper than an interesting way to attract patrons. According to The Mine Depot's website, its theme is based on an authentic Welsh coal mine. Owner Stuart James' family and ancestors routinely labored in coal mines, explains Food & Wine. James points out that the genuine artifacts, photos, and memory walls in the restaurant pay homage to his own past as well as that of the country's deep ties to its coal mining industry.

What distinguishes this hugely popular eating spot is how a coal miner-style shovel ends up in the hands of servers and diners. Here, they are used for something far different than digging for underground minerals.

Serving and eating with shovels in South Wales

The Mine Bistro is situated within a former stockroom on the high street of Cwmgwrach; accessed through a narrow alley bordering a red-brick pub hotel. With seating for only 32 diners, per Wales Online, it's no surprise that its reservation waiting lists for Friday and Saturday evenings stretch at least two months into the future. Locals and travelers alike pour into The Mine Bistro, sitting at cable-reel tables and gobbling piled-high portions of food served on huge shovels. Diners can even "shovel" food from table to mouth using little shovel-shaped spoons, per Food & Wine.

James explains to Wales Online that there are at least six or seven working mines nearby. In addition to artifact-laden décor, the bistro's menu names various food sections in honor of Welsh "collieries," which Merriam-Webster defines as coal mines and their connected structures. Desserts and main courses give a shoutout to the Unity and Aberpergwm coal mines, while the appetizers are named for the former mine, Blaengwynfi. It was at this mine that a group of "sinkers" lost their lives in an 1891 in an overwinding accident, notes the Northern Mine Research Society. The Open Cast menu of side orders highlights the surface mining method in which coal is removed from the ground, per Cambridge Dictionary.

The wait may be long, but The Mine Bistro certainly shows ingenuity in shoveling out what goes in your mouth while also honoring Wales' coal mining history in the process.