A Restaurant for Introverts

June 28, 2013 | Marie Calloway

Eenmaal is one of Amsterdam’s newest restaurants and it’s the first to only offer tables for one. I wonder if this idea could ever catch on in the US.

American news outlets barrage with articles and guides about “Eating Solo.” A lot of the “tips” are focused on making the dining not actually solo and explain how to talk to your waiter or talking to another patron. They discuss neither why one might not want to dine alone, aside from a the lack of other options, nor the benefits of dining alone, like the chance for quiet contemplation after a busy day. It’s a move make it more “tolerable,” but not to destigmatize it in the way this Dutch restaurant seems to.

There’s an obvious cultural divide. I’m reminded of a conversation I once had with a Dutch friend who, upon moving to New York City, was surprised how freely strangers talk to each other, especially on public transportation. In the Netherlands, he talked that people are instilled with an idea that they have right to be left alone and not be bothered in public.

Marti Olsen Laney recently released a self-help book called The Introvert Advantage: Making the Most of Your Inner Strengths which promises to show the benefits that introversion has in the face of a culture that pressures them into being extroverted, like “their analytical skills, ability to think outside the box, and strong powers of concentration.” Maybe this restaurant could serve as an example for Americans — a small step towards valuing introverts and their unique skills or, at least, encourage recognizing this as a valid human characteristic rather than a failing.

Too bad that we’re a long way away from having our own solo-dining restaurants, but pop-up restaurants are usually more about advertising and creating buzz anyway. This seems more about promoting Eenmaal’s social designer Marina Van Goor and branding agency Vandejong than making introversion more socially acceptable.