Preparing for the Communal Dining Trend

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You may be used to finding large tables at your local coffee
house, but there are some restaurants which are also joining this
movement.  It’s been a couple of years
since the first eateries opened up to the idea of communal tables, but the
number has grown in the last few months. If this is a route you want to take, it will involve a few changes to
the dining room.


Why Choose Group
Dining?

Communal dining allows your guests to interact in new ways.
They will end up sitting with people they would never have met otherwise, even
if the experience is fleeting. For some diners this is a welcome adventure and
they will seek your out for the opportunity.

Now, this isn’t an entirely new idea, after all Japanese
steakhouses have been seating people together on a regular basis for years.
Unless a group comes in that fills all the seats at a grill, the staff will
place people together. This takes that
concept a step further.


Part Way or Whole
Hog?

Some eateries embrace the communal trend entirely, replacing
their restaurant dining sets with large, long tables. Others keep their
restaurant furniture the same and just keep a constant flow of people to the
tables. Not sure which way to go? Consider the pros and cons.

Diners who like communal seating seem to have a preference
for large tables. The constant flow of people is less disruptive and the rules
of dining etiquette a little less formal in this setting. They sit where there is space, introduce
themselves and chat if appropriate; otherwise, they can sit quietly and just
share the square footage.

On the other hand, if you keep the table setup as it is,
four-tops, six-tops, and so on, but move people in and out as space clears, it
can make for a more profitable business operation since no seats are ever free
for long. However, it can be awkward for some people as the need to socialize
with several groups can be intimidating.

In either case the main complaint seems to be the lack of calm
during the meal.


A Middle Ground?

If you have the space, it may pay off to dip your toes in
the communal dining pool and see how things pan out. Place a few larger tables
in an alcove or off to the side and leave normal restaurant seating in the rest
of the dining room.

Another option is to use the outdoor restaurant furniture
for group dining and leave the indoors alone. This may be something you have to
play around with to find the optimal solution for your establishment.

Whether communal dining will continue to grow as a trend or
not is anyone’s guess. It really depends on guests view the dining experience
in the future.