Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Nirvana at the Communist Table?

You've probably already read the Chronicle's Food section cover story on communal tables; if not, go read it, it's a fresh look at a long-developing trend.

What I wonder, from a business standpoint, is whether this is a rare, perfect overlap of the interests of patron and proprietor. The patron gets a fun seat, available at the last minute, where she can meet friends and maybe suitors.

The proprietor gets highly efficient use of his space, plenty of cocktail sales to grease the socializing and, apparently, at Pres a Vi, the sale of a whole bottle of Veuve to some dude trying to impress some chick, successfully it turns out.

So what's the catch here? Is service a headache, keeping track of all those individual orders and who is paying for who? Do people linger too long after they are done eating?

And if people want to be so social, what's with the explosion in private dining rooms? The Hilton's planned "urban tavern" is supposed to have four separate private dining areas AND a communal table.

Perhaps it's a sign people are weaving restaurants into new parts of their lives as good food becomes more prized and more central, with restaurants stealing ground from singles bars and private clubs. Lucratively, I might add.

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