Tables for one. No wi-fi. Your companion? Physical books, magazines, newspapers. Welcome at EENMAAL, the first one-person restaurant in the world.
EENMAAL is not just a place for solo eaters who seek some quiet time temporarily disconnected from our hyper-connected world. It also aims at showing that dining out alone is wrongfuly stigmatized. That solo eaters should not be viewed as weird loners or frowned upon objects of pity.
The EENMAAL restaurant model is fine and useful on certain occasions. At the same time it raises intriguing questions about our concept and experience of dining. Is eating with others, as Julian Baggini ponders, a social experience that is existentially quite distinct from mere feeding? Do we miss anything ethically or existentially significant when we dine alone? It also raises questions about the ethos of our day and the place of dining in it. Does dining alone reflect a dystopic trend toward a society of disconnected loners nurtured by the individualist ethos of our market society? Would the EENMAAL concept be seen as glamorizing this trend? On the other hand, we should not ignore that solo dining might be our 'delicious' way to intimacy with ourselves in our hyper-connected world obsessed with sociality and extroversion.
Difficult questions and lots of implications. The answers partly depend on one’s vision of the good life. EENMAAL has surely kickstarted a very intriguing discussion.