Fight Internet Isolation: Go Communal

CulinaryEd Columnist
May 19, 2011

Culinary students and chefs know the importance of following restaurant design trends. These days, as the Internet isolates people, restaurants can encourage human contact.

"Restaurants have gotten louder, more casual and 'communal' as the Internet has become ingrained in our lives," says Michael Bauer, restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. Here are five restaurant design trends helping diners reconnect.

  1. Open kitchens. The wall between diners and the kitchen has literally come down. Open kitchens make restaurants more noisy and some chefs are uncomfortable always being on view, but many diners welcome the added sense of intimacy an open kitchen offers.
  2. Counter dining. Even upscale restaurants are adding counter dining — usually facing the open kitchen. People who dine alone often prefer eating at a counter where they can talk to other diners. A counter is also becoming an acceptable place to seat patrons who haven't made a reservation.
  3. Communal tables. Informal and ethnic restaurants have been using communal tables for years, seating strangers together as Old World inns and taverns do. Michael Bauer says, "Over the holidays, I went to a dinner party at a friend's house who had invited a couple she met at [a communal table]. They had such a good time over dinner, she knew they would fit right in."
  4. Mirrors. Diners facing the wall are often forced to look at the wall. Adding mirrors can help diners with their back to the room feel included.
  5. Enhanced lighting. Believe it or not, this lesson can be learned from McDonald's. Irwin S. Kruger removed fluorescent lights and installed softer low-voltage lighting in his six McDonald's units in Manhattan. Kruger says, "It's not uncommon for CEOs to come into our restaurants because of their locations and conduct business as though they were going to a tablecloth restaurant."

Chefs, restaurant owners and culinary students, take note: restaurants can satisfy the need for human companionship as much as they can satisfy the palate.


  1. National Restaurant Association
  2. San Francisco Chronicle
Culinary Art Schools
Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Showing schools in your area

            Matching School Ads
            Culinary Arts Diploma
            Good for Working Adults
            • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
            • Offers several scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who qualify.
            • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
            • 4 Campuses located in Clovis, Modesto, and Redding in California, and Salem, Oregon.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            B.S. in Hospitality Management
            • Ready to earn your business degree? If you identify with at least one of the statements below, GCU could be a good fit for you!
            • I have worked in the business field for a number of years and want to further my education in order to qualify for promotions, leadership positions, and salary increases.
            • I am graduating from high school and am interested in pursuing a career in a business field, but I first need the skills experience.
            • I am interested in a Bachelor's, Master's or Doctoral degree in my specialized business area of focus.
            • I want flexible course offerings, such as the option of 100% online, evening or campus classes.
            • I need a university that provides quality educational offerings through academic excellence and real-world relevance. Does this sound like you? Apply today!
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Pastry & Baking Arts
            • Named a Culinary School of Excellence by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) in 2015.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at famous and respected New York City and Los Angeles restaurants.
            • New York campus is located in downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the World Trade Center.
            • Los Angeles campus is located in Pasadena, California’s Playhouse District, 10 miles from Downtown Los Angeles.
            Show more [+]
            Search Schools Near You
            Subject :
            Degree :
            Zip Code :
            Culinary Articles
            10 Colleges with Delicious Dining Hall Food
            Forget boring college cafeteria dining: campus food can be both healthy and delicious. Here's a look at 10 colleges where you might actually enjoy getting your grub on.
            Four International Cuisines Influencing the American Foodscape
            Ethnic cuisines are an integral part of America's culinary landscape, and none more so than these perennial favorites.
            5 Ethnic Cuisines for Serious Foodies
            Love food? Want to broaden your culinary horizons? These five international cuisines might be an excellent starting place.
            Healthy home cooked meals can improve health, longevity and family social community
            Read how cooking at home rather than eating out can help you live longer, reduce the risk of cancer and improve family dynamics. Not only has cooking at home become the hip choice, it's also become the smart choice.