Communal dining is a bit like Marmite – you either love it or hate it! But whatever your feeling on the subject, it seems like communal dining is here to stay. Some of the big chains such as Ikea utilise those big tables that seat several people in one go, but could they work in your café or restaurant? We take a look at the advantages and downsides of communal dining to help you make an informed decision.
The advantages of communal tables
The major benefit of communal tables for any café or restaurant owner is the ability to seat more people and turn your tables around faster, especially in a smaller space. As well as being able to accommodate more customers, you also save the space that is normally left in between standard tables.
Put on your practical head, and you’ll realise that you no longer have to push tables together to accommodate large groups – which seems to make the thought of communal tables a no-brainer.
What’s more, there is also a social element that can be more enjoyable for certain diners. Communal dining is particularly popular with millennials who tend to frequent cafes and restaurants where they can socialise, graze, and generally linger. They also provide a more pleasant experience for customers on their own who can obviously relax at a table that is clearly not intended for two, or they can chat and even make new friends with other solo dinners sitting around the table. It’s a great way of meeting new people when you’re new in town,
What about the disadvantages?
Communal tables aren’t to everyone’s liking and they’re not always suitable for every type of venue. Indeed, they’re not always the best choice on a personal or practical level.
If your café or restaurant attracts families with small children then while communal dining could in theory work, the height of the chairs and the tables may not be considered safe for kids. Other diners may simply prefer not to eat with families so it’s important to consider offering other seating options, should you decide to go communal.
Other groups of customers such as those holding a business meeting, a couple on a date, or anyone not fond of eating in close proximity with strangers, may also not be fans of communal dining.
If you do decide to give communal dining go, then we recommend you have maybe one communal table (possibly lined up against a bare wall) and the rest of the space filled with standard tables and chairs.