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Jan 17, 2007

Community Tables and Chinese Christmas

I've heard of Chinese New Year, but Chinese Christmas? 
Check out the Santa on my glass of Diet Coke :-)

Here's something I'd like to see: community tables at restaurants, for solo diners who would welcome the chance to eat with others.

This idea comes to me from time to time, but most frequently at Rainbow Chinese* where I solo eat at least twice a month.  I usually enjoy watching whatever they have on TV, but often as not I see other solo diners wonder if we really ought be eating together instead of watching the TV while awkwardly avoiding each others' eyes.  (Theory: we feel awkard because our "isolation despite nearness" runs counter to a human instinct to connect.)

Two other things about Rainbow Chinese:

1.  I like how their glasses are mismatched.  It makes me feel like I'm eating in someone's home. 

2.  Back when I was in high school, it used to be called Hunam Chinese (or maybe Hunam Palace).  Back then, the local drinking age was 18 but some of my underage high school would go there and order beer without getting carded.  According to my (white) friend, Tarus, "we all look alike to them, anyway."


Rainbow Chinese, ~900 W. Main St., across from Brightleaf Square.  Lunchtime buffet and a bottled drink, $6.50 plus tip.  Don't count on friendly and efficient service or an attractive setting, but it's decent food cheap and fast.

09:05 PM in Reviews, Things I'd Like to See or Do | Permalink


Re: community tables, that's what I love about restaurants with counters. I'm way more likely to go to Elmo's, Honey's, or (sniff) a place like Joe and Jo's, because not only do you get a chance to mingle slightly with others, but you don't feel like such a loser sitting a table by yourself. (Maybe that's just me...)

Posted by: Michael | Jan 18, 2007 12:23:51 AM

I travel a lot on business, and often state "Table for One". A couple of thoughts.

First, this is why I love sushi bars. Not only can you sit with other people, it seems that people who enjoy sushi tend to also have other things in common.

Second, once in San Francisco I went to this nice restaurant in the Theatre District. It was an old grand ballroom and they actually *had* a table for one. In the middle of the restaurant there was a wide staircase (about three stairs high) with brass railings. They had placed a small table (for one) on the opposite sides of the rail on the landing. You had a great view for people watching and nice light if you wanted to read (I always carry a book with me). Not quite the same idea but nice nonetheless.

Posted by: Tarus | Jan 18, 2007 1:50:44 PM

As an alternative to communal tables or "table for one," I discovered on business travel that most good restaurants will happily serve their full menu at the bar.

This almost guarantees conversation with one's seatmates *and* the bartender and has always worked out well for me (couple glasses of wine, plate of food, an hour of pleasant conversation with strangers, cup of coffee and I'm out the door.)

Concur completely on sitting at the sushi bar. People who are that seriously into sushi tend to be interesting.

Posted by: Barry Campbell | Jan 28, 2007 7:37:20 AM

I've taken Barry's suggestion on several occasions, including one otherwise "hopeless" evening in Rock Springs, WY. I ended up at a very nice brewpub which was apparently the ONLY such place in that corner of Wyoming.

The town was a strange strange strange looking place -- the downtown looked formerly prosperous, but was now half-empty. Yet all the motels and hotels nearby were full. According to the various locals I was sitting with (near the bar's corner, where people can actually see each other and talk), Rock Springs had been a big coal town that went bust, which explained the old prosperity and current poor state of the town. But recent expansion in oil and gas drilling was turning it into a new boom town, which explained all the full hotels. Fascinating.

Anyway, I also had some long and personal conversations with two of the customers, one of whom was dating one of the wait staff. The customer was soon to head south to go to some specialty trade school, which was going to be a smart decision, but which was going to put a big strain on their relationship. I can't remember what else we talked about, but I still feel a lot of sympathy for the struggles they were just starting to sort through.

Posted by: Phil | Nov 14, 2008 12:20:34 AM