Human beings have always gathered together in a common setting to share a meal. We are social animals and sharing in the preparation and consumption of food helps us build the connections we need to thrive and survive. In other words, sharing a meal with friends and family isn’t just a luxury that we can easily discard when challenging times arise. Eating together is a core part of our biological and sociological makeup, and it is something we took for granted—until now.
“Having grown up in a restaurant family, I took it for granted that our business was important to our neighbors. Everyone who worked in the family luncheonette in Brooklyn knew every customer who walked in the door,” said Arlene Spiegel, founder of foodservice and hospitality consultancy Arlene Spiegel & Associates. “We knew the customer’s name, the way they liked their coffee, and whether they liked mayo on their BLTs. There was a beautiful, unspoken connection with each customer that reassured all parties—including the cooks and the servers. Dining out is intended to be a restorative experience, and we treated it that way.”