Eating out tends to be synonymous with socializing, whether it’s with family, friends or work colleagues. So dining alone is often perceived as a sad and lonely affair.
In our society, there is actually no room for being alone in public spaces.
The small pop-up venue with 10 tables — each for a single diner — is the brainchild of Marina van Goor, a designer focused on projects with social impact, who wants to make solo dining culturally acceptable and cool.
“We wanted to break the very recognizable taboo of eating out alone. I noticed that in our society, there is actually no room for being alone in public spaces,” she explains. “Being a pop-up allows us to give a wider audience the chance to try it.”
Eenmaal — a Dutch word meaning both “one time” and ”one meal” — moves locations but always sets up in unused shop spaces with large front windows and little decoration, to avoid distractions. The walls are bare, the music plays softly and, before you ask, no, there is no Wi-Fi. Customers are asked to refrain from using their smartphones and encouraged to read a book or magazine instead.
Eenmaal’s clientele ranges from millennial hipsters in search of a trendy venue to misanthropic foodies looking to enjoy a four-course meal without having to engage in idle chitchat. The menu costs $50, including drinks, and is crafted by chef Leslie Dronker, who favors fresh tastes and organic, locally sourced ingredients.
This place transforms an awkward situation into something comfortable.
Judging by the serene atmosphere in which diners dig into their parsley rye bread, pork belly with pickle, and Lapsang ice cream, eating alone can be a truly pleasurable experience. “This place transforms an awkward situation into something comfortable,” says Peik Suyling, a client and fan. “It’s relaxed and exciting at the same time.”
Since it debuted last summer, Eenmaal’s success has surpassed its founders’ expectations. The temporary eatery is already in its sixth location, changing venue every month or so — info is provided on its website — and later this year it’s going to start popping up internationally, in London, Berlin and New York.
Van Goor is even flirting with the idea of opening permanent locations. “We could create a franchise, because I am convinced it will work anywhere, and there is a need for it,” she says.
For now, Eenmaal is expanding its brand by creating products for the “one-person market.” Their first item, a 375-ml bottle of “not for sharing” champagne, named Eenmaal Bauchet, is already available to enjoy with the meals, and chocolate and tea products will soon follow.
Eating with friends and relatives will always be a popular pastime. But in today’s hyperconnected world, Eenaal gives its clients the rare opportunity to turn down the volume and focus on themselves before modern life takes over again.
So if you fancy a party for one, check out Eenmaal. But keep in mind that when the bill comes, you’ll have no choice but to go Dutch.
Why you should care
Because there’s a delicious new way to enjoy the pleasure of your own company.