Avec service comparison excerpt – communal seating, by Matt Satow

28 03 2008

The atmosphere at Avec was considerably different than the last time I dined at Avec. On a Saturday night during dinner rush the restaurant is jam packed, and with so many people in such a small space the roar of the dining room is practically deafening, making it difficult to carry on a conversation with even the people directly next to you. This time around, however, with the restaurant all to ourselves and a lot less background noise I found the experience to be much more enjoyable.

Having the restaurant to ourselves also allowed me to appreciate the benefits that communal seating can have for a large party, however, ordinarily I cannot stand it. Perhaps I’m just anti-social, but I don’t come to a restaurant to meet new people or to be forced to listen in on their conversations – not because I want to, but because I have no other choice do to the close proximity of the seats. I go to restaurants to enjoy the food foremost, but also my company with at least a smidgeon of privacy.

Maybe I’ve just been unlucky in the past, but it seems like every time I go out to eat at a restaurant with communal seating I’m stuck listening to some couple awkwardly navigate through their first date. Living through a first date can be bad enough, but to me, having to listen to two nimrods trying to convince each other for an hour how fascinating and unique they are is half a step up from Chinese water torture. Last time I had the misfortune to dine at such a place the guy on the date happened to be a DJ, and, from what I could gather from his conversation, somewhat of a prodigy – the Michael Jordon of DJs, if you will. As I listened to him ramble on and on about his philosophies regarding putting together a great song list, the necessity of a truly ‘dope beat,’ etc…., it wasn’t the food or the company I was focused on, but rather the words ‘check please,’ repeating over and over in my head like some sort of demented mantra. And, for all I know they were thinking the exact thing about whatever it was that I was talking about that night. Basically, communal seating is a total crapshoot; your entire experience can be shaped by the company that you are randomly put together with, a gamble I’d prefer not to take. I am not blind to the fact that communal seating has its fair share of potential benefits, like sharing dishes at a place like Avec, but for me it’s far more of a detraction. In fact, I generally have a tendency not to dine at places with communal seating unless the food is pretty amazing, luckily the food at Avec is pretty damn good.

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