Tuesday, May 7, 2019

drifting apart, eating alone

As a nation [United Kingdom], we have also become less self-conscious about solo dining. The bookings website OpenTable recently reported that reservations for one have increased across the UK by 160% since 2014. Bar seating and communal tables are increasingly popping up in restaurants.
While destigmatising solo dining in all its manifestations is liberating, our new dietary habits steer us into uncharted territory. Until now, eating in groups has been a universal human ritual.
Another shift in the gearbox of human existence. I wonder if "communal tables" is a good idea ... I sort of think so.


  1. I sometimes tell foreign friends how I feel this to be one of the most precious cultural inheritances that Portuguese people have to offer; to join friends and family at the table for food and socializing. Any reason is usually a good excuse, most commonly birthdays in these fast-paced and economically strained times, but the weekend ritual of going out for lunch and spending hours at the table, to the dismay of those waiting, is still very much alive. I remember in my childhood being driven around from restaurant to restaurant, looking for one that had free tables and sometimes having to compromise and wait for over an hour, just to get seated and another hour to get food on the table. Worth the wait when the food is good and the company is even better.

  2. Given even a modestly careful reading of the article on which this post is based reveals that there is no simple solution to the eating alone phenomena.

    Still, your suggestion of communal tables might be successful in certain restaurants for some people. I have my doubts: Do a significant number of people really want to eat, say evening meals, with any other person than to eat alone? Perhaps, if the restaurant took a "Cheers" approach where the customer become regular eaters.