STORY BY HEATHER L. KING
Meet thy neighbor Digging into downtown’s communal dining scene ABOVE: STRANGERS BECOMING FRIENDS AT BEER BAR.
ining out is something most people plan and look forward to with anticipation. Whether a celebratory event with family or wine-soaked get together with friends, eating at a restaurant is something almost everyone can relate to and enjoy. But how the final experience shapes up is often as much about the environment as it is about what we order off the menu. When communal dining debuted in fine dining establishments in downtown Salt Lake in 2012, it seemed more of an edgy trend than a necessity. Fast forward a half decade and how does communal dining sit with Salt Lake residents and visitors now? Are more restaurants
downtown the magazine
sizing up the idea to save space and pack more diners in when possible or have guests rebelled against forced mingling with strangers? Attitudes toward communal dining seem to be all in the eye of the beholder. Oftentimes, the price point of the restaurant and the time of day can both weigh heavily on the apparent success of the concept, given its longtime prevalence at college pizza joints and barbecue restaurants for decades. Counter service coziness When diners stand in line to order food at a counter and then seat themselves—a la fast-casual dining—it’s common to sit next to fall 2018 / winter 2019