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Table or booth?


“Table or booth?” has to be one of life’s fundamental questions. Consider the option carefully, for there are also fundamental differences represented by your choice. It’s not quite like Fords and Chevys or Lutherans and Catholics. But people dining out come to a restaurant for different reasons. Hunger, however, isn’t necessarily the determining factor.

Those seated at tables are there primarily to eat; to satisfy the body’s need for fuel. Groups of four or fewer seated at a “four-top” will dutifully place their order, eat and leave. Different numbers–five or more–are placed there of necessity by grouping four- and two-tops in tendem. Variations on this depend 1) whether it’s a busload of the women’s basketball team passing through on the way to Omaha, or 2) if it’s a Chinese buffet. Booths are another matter altogether.


In the secular world, a restaurant booth may be the closest kin to the confessional, that agonizingly intimate space for what Catholics now call “reconciliation”. How can a space be at once so small and yet so cavernously empty? 

Then consider the restaurant booth, the epitome of what Germans call “Gemütlichkeit”.

Food consumed in a booth is, in most cases and again in an almost religious sense, merely the excuse to be alone together with three other people for communion–in every sense of the word. Howard’s friend Gabi waits tables at Adam’s Restaurant in Agincourt and has much to share as an observer of the human condition, especially as it’s manifest in restaurant booths.

“A few figs from thistles…”

by Howard A. Tabor

Table or booth?



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