Silent Dining: The Latest Restaurant Gimmick?

Silent dining restaurant gimmick
Flickr, Monika Bargmann

Banning cell phones in restaurants is becoming more common, as diners who constantly use their phones to chat or document their meals can be a distraction to other customers. A Brooklyn restaurant is taking things to the next level by banning talk altogether, piloting a “silent dining” event in which no one speaks for a 90 minute meal. Last month there were 17 diners at Eat participating without words in the first of what may become a monthly event, and after a chance to inform servers about allergies, there was total silence. The managing chef was inspired by silent meals at a monastery he visited in India. The restaurant serves only organic local food, with all furniture and decor also made by local artisans.

Is this a welcome concept, or just another gimmick in dining?

A San Francisco restaurant is often silent, but it’s not a gimmick, it’s run by a deaf couple with a some hearing-impaired staff. Patrons can communicate in sign language, or like many of us do in foreign countries, by pointing and writing. Owner Melody Stein wants Mozzeria to be known for its pizza, not as a deaf restaurant, and they have many repeat customers both hearing and deaf.Dining in the dark has been a trend for awhile, with restaurants in the U.S. and in Europe promoting an experience of eating without sight. Many of the restaurants employ blind waiters who are trained in serving sighted customers who are plunged into a pitch black restaurant or blindfolded. The idea is to heighten the other senses, but the reality can be more terrifying than tantalizing.

Like your steak with a side of vertigo? For a thousand bucks or so apiece (plus catering costs), you and 21 friends can be hoisted up in the sky on a crane to try Dining in the Sky. Started in Belgium and France, the table can be rented all over the world.

A truly moveable feast was hosted on a New York City subway for 12 diners. Waiters served six courses at stops between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and the MTA was not amused, but no one was arrested or fined for the meal.

Would you try any of these unusual meals? Share your experiences in the comments.

Indian company offers “divorce tourism” package to quarreling couples

For many happy couples, a trip is taken to commemorate joyful events, like a marriage or the impending birth of a child. Then there are other couples – the ones who certainly aren’t happy but who aren’t quite ready to rush off to Vegas for their divorce party. For them, there’s “divorce tourism”.

The Daily Mail reports that a company in India, called KV Tours and Travel, is offering packages to destinations like the Maldives aimed at helping couples on the brink of divorce to reconcile. India has typically had a very low divorce rate – only about one out of every 100 marriages end in divorce – but in India’s largest cities, it is becoming more common. The company offers a few different packages, ranging from local stays to more expensive exotic destinations. Vijesh Thakker, the company’s chief executive told the AP, “We’re trying to send them where they have not been before, where there are not many people – and no relatives”. For couples that don’t want to invest in saving their marriage, the company reaches out to family members and asks them to foot the bill on the couple’s behalf. Experienced marriage counselors accompany the couple on their trip and help them work through their issues and determine if they want to stay together or go their separate ways.

Can a seven-day vacation save a marriage? Not likely, which even the concept’s creator admits. “We’re not destiny changers,” Thakker said, but “we want them to treat the trip like a second honeymoon”.