You’ve only got to pay a visit to the latest ‘go to’ restaurant, bistro, or cafe and you’re sure to spot a communal table or two. The fact is that establishments far and wide from fast service through to fine dining are embracing the concept of the communal table. Seemingly many of today’s customers are looking for a slice of social interaction that they can indulge in alongside their skinny latte or spiced up breakfast sandwich, and communal tables are quick to deliver.
So what exactly are they and where did they originate from?
Communal or community tables are large tables that can seat more than one group or party at a time. Despite the fact that they’re very popular right now, the concept is nothing new. In fact up until the 19th century only the wealthy could afford to eat in private dining rooms and as such, community tables were the norm in inns, public dining rooms, and halls throughout Europe. It wasn’t until about 1780 that tables which seat just one party were introduced to diners in Paris. This style of dining became more accessible and more affordable to the masses and as such became the preferred choice.
The concept of table sharing
Most Australians are unfamiliar with communal sharing and aren’t used to sharing a table with people they’ve never met, unless of course they’re in a German style beer hall. However in other parts of the world, it’s incredibly common. In Japan for instance there are often less tables than diners. As such people know they’ll get served faster if they’re willing to share with other already seated diners. The same goes for many other informal eateries throughout Europe such as Tapas bars and Trattorias. If the food is good, diners are more than happy to sit next to a complete stranger and tuck in.
So why the trend?
Communal tables have proven to be popular in recent times in big foodie markets where it’s bustling with shoppers and diners and it’s really an extension of that. Once interaction starts then it makes for a more relaxed atmosphere and when people are relaxed, they tend to enjoy the whole experience more.
Communal tables make good business sense
As well as the social aspect, communal tables make good business sense. They’re perfect for accommodating larger groups of people who would otherwise have to pull two or three tables together or sit in several booths, or wait to be seated individually (all of which aren’t ideal). Instead larger tables can capitalise on larger groups so that they don’t feel excluded.
Here at Cafe Chairs Sydney we have a wide range of commercial grade cafe-seating on offer including communal tables. If that’s not your bag, then why not check out our variety of smaller tables instead. Whatever your cafe furniture requirements, you can count on us.