The Communal Table

Meet your new friends

Hi! Welcome to our establishment. As you can tell, I’m not one of those unbelievably gorgeous and cool New York City hostesses with an attitude — I’m one of those astonishingly beautiful and hip Brooklyn hostesses who’s so friendly it makes you feel slightly paranoid for reasons you can’t exactly pinpoint.

Just the two of you tonight? And do you have a reservation? Yes, we’re one of the many brand-new restaurants in your neighborhood that takes reservations for some dumbass reason even though one of the things you always loved about this area was the fact that it was laid back and casual and you knew you could just wander into one of the many nice but not at all fancy restaurants and put your name in on a whim just like everyone else, which felt both spontaneous and democratic. Anyway, since you don’t have a reservation, I’m going to be slightly less friendly from now on. OK, I’ll be right back — I have to go walk in a circle serenely staring at the candles on the tables for 10 minutes for no discernible reason.

I’m back, as you can see, since you could see me the whole time because I was literally just walking in a circle with my hands clasped behind my back. It looks like it’s going to be a three hour wait, minimum, but I’m happy to put your party down on the list if you just give me a name…

That big, nearly empty table in the back? That’s the communal table. As you can see, there are three women on one end of it, then eight completely empty seats, but surely you want to wait for a real table. Really? Are you sure you don’t want to wait at least three hours so you can sit at your own private two top that’s literally one inch away from an identical table so that every time you get out to go to the bathroom, you nearly knock over not just your own, but your neighbor’s glass of wine?

If you’re willing to take the risk, we’re happy to seat you at the communal table right this second. As you can see, there will be only 10 or so feet of space between you and the next closest patrons, but there’s always the chance that someone else could come in and be seated a mere five feet away from you at the very same table. Of course, the reason we have the communal table is so people can socialize with strangers over a meal, but only a psychopath would want to do that. The idea behind the communal table is create a sense of community, to place strangers a mere eight feet apart at the very same table so that they might become friends, whereas seating strangers six inches or less apart at separate tables ensures you’ll make an enemy.

However, if you wait just three hours (minimum), you’ll have the luxury of being seated at your very own private table, where you’ll definitely be sitting so close to the people next to you that your elbows will brush against one another while you eat. If you’re very lucky, the people seated next to you may be a couple in the middle of a fight about how he cheated on her and they never really talked about it and she tried to let it go, and maybe she’ll start crying softly and he’ll completely shut down emotionally because he thinks she’s hysterical for even bothering to mention the fact that he straight up cheated on her two whole weeks ago. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Or, if you want to take a huge risk, you can be drinking in five minutes and eating in 15 just out of earshot of that trio of girlfriends at the end of the very same table who seem to be having a great time but are also very quiet and polite and considerate of those around them.

Wow, really? The communal table. Are you SURE? You’re sure about this? You’re sure you want to eat very soon and with almost no one around you? Really? You’re sure you don’t want to have the chance to sit at your own private table almost directly across from a woman so thin you can’t help but watch her eat and wonder if her husband realizes she has an eating disorder? And honestly, do men even notice these things or do you just have hawk eyes for eating disorders because you and all your college friends competed to see who could have the most disordered eating and you won? You’re sure you want to sit at the communal table with your friend and have a pleasant night with tons of space around you as you enjoy the uncommon luxury of privacy in this crowded city?

OK — in that case I can seat you now. Follow me.

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