A restaurant in Amsterdam is pushing the boundaries by encouraging diners to disconnect from the world and rediscover themselves.
Dining alone can be awkward, but imagine there was a place that transformed the experience into one full of pleasure, mindfulness and appreciation? This is exactly what is on the menu at Eenmaal, the world’s first restaurant catering purely to solo diners.
Founder of Eenmaal Marina Van Goor heads design agency MVG and has a long resume of impressive projects dedicated to making a social impact. Marina created Eenmaal initially as a two day pop-up restaurant to break the social taboo associated with eating alone and to help people discover it can be a source of joy and peace.
The idea proved so popular Marina took over a 17th century canal house on the banks of Amsterdam to give Eenmaal a more permanent home where it continued to sell out tables night after night. .
Eenmaal – a Dutch word meaning ‘one meal’ – now moves locations every month or so to keep things interesting but always sets up in shop spaces with large windows and a simple design for minimum distractions.
“In today’s society it is expected that we surround ourselves with friends and family when we dine. I wanted to turn this on its head by creating a space where people could experience a moment of disconnection in our hyperconnected society before modern life takes over again,” Marina said.
“We did this by creating an attractive space where sitting alone can feel comfortable and cool – not sad. Contemporary urban design often uses public space as a place for people to meet and gather as a community, rather than as a central location to be peaceful and introspective on your own.”
“We knew we had struck a chord when we launched and word quickly spread. Before we knew it we’d started a global conversation about the merits of eating out alone in a comfortable and peaceful setting.”
The Eenmaal experience begins with a group cocktail where diners are encouraged to mingle before dinner starts. Guests are then taken to one of 10 tables, where they are encouraged to leave their mobile phones alone for the three-course meal, read a book or magazine and fully appreciate the organic, locally sourced menu and sleek, luxurious décor.
Walls are bare, music plays softly and you guessed it – there’s no Wi-Fi. Marina has extended Eenmaal’s reach internationally by collaborating with like-minded brands including mineral water company Glaceau Smartwater. Together they launched a pop up restaurant last year in London to encourage workers to stretch their legs and take a real break.
“It was an extremely powerful way to emphasis how important it is to leave your desk to regenerate and work more efficiently in the afternoon. We want to see less ‘al desko’ lunches!”, Marina said.
You can also expect to see Eenmaal restaurants pop up in other countries including Berlin and New York, along with a new line of ‘not for sharing’ champagne, food and tea products currently in the pipeline.
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