Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Communal Table Trend

Communal dining is the practice of placing unrelated parties at common tables in a public dining establishment.  What are your thoughts on communal dining?

In the last few years, in larger markets, this is starting to become a big thing. Newer Chicago dining favorites like The Bristol, The Girl & The Goat, The Publican & The Purple Pig have made it big by promoting the communal dining concept. Some of these places are a blend of of communal tables and smaller tables. Others are 100% communal.

I remember back in the 80s, maybe even the 70s, there was a mini-trend where restaurants would set a larger table aside for solo diners so they would not have to eat alone. So it is not really a new idea. Many places in the world would not think of having two people at a table for four when the place was full, let alone six people at a ten top. We have nights when I wish I could get away with it.

The argument for it seems to be that way our lives have changed, mostly due to technology, people are looking for interaction like this. Is it a backlash against our tech-savvy and more isolated society? It is said sharing of tables creates an intimacy between other diners and is meant to promote interaction and a community feel. You get a chance to meet new people and get a good look at what other people are eating. I could be a lot of fun.... as long as you are seated next to the right members of the commune.

Maybe I am too old school. I go out to eat to get away from the commune not be thrust back into it. I get enough interaction at work. In fact, because I own a restaurant, my life is communal table. I might not be the best judge. As this trend goes forward, or not, I see it as something I could tolerate if the food was special. The other night I was watching one of my favorite shows "Portlandia," and this video link from the show gives their opination of communal dining.

So what are your thoughts? Should we have a communal table set aside?


  1. We experienced communal dining at a restaurant at The Hill, St. Louis, Mo several years ago. It was quite fun. Yes, I think it might work in LaSalle, IL also.

  2. Cajun Connection has done this in the past and it was fun!

  3. Anonymous said...

    I don't think I'd ever want to do that. Dining out is a special occasion for my wife and I. If we want other people sharing our table WE will decide who those people will be - friend(s), family, whomever. Too much 'community' stuff out there already. We embrace our privacy and private times.