Jamie Ashworth on the State of Private Dining


As a professional chef in Boston, MA, Jamie Ashworth is familiar with several types of dining. Since the pandemic, restaurants have become creative in how they service customers. Because fine dining and cuisine will never go out of style, Jamie Ashworth is certain private meals are here to stay.

What Is Private Dining?

Private dining may seem straightforward, but it has changed. While private dining used to mean sitting outside or at home with another person and enjoying a fine wine, the pandemic has slightly shifted this definition. Today private dining is considered a mix between public and sequestered eating.

Especially popular in New York, private dining is an intimate occasion where chefs like Jamie Ashworth can cook high-quality cuisine for customers. These settings are distanced from other people and maybe designed just for one party.

In addition to health and safety, private dining is a unique experience. Settings are often elaborately decorated or have an artistic flair. Venues can take place in gardens, terraces, and indoor spaces. While once popular for weddings and company parties, this form of dining is now available for smaller groups.

Because of worldwide restaurant restrictions due to COVID-19, private dining is now accessible for casual dinners. This is a new trend that many patrons and chefs are interested in. Through social distancing, private dining has created a way for the restaurant industry to survive and grow.

Types of Private Dining

Private dining can be done indoors or outdoors, depending on the occasion. Large groups of people usually prefer to sit outside even if there are no other diners in the restaurant. This can be due to safety reasons or personal preference. Outdoor areas are often set in nature or unique structures like tree houses or boats.

During the cold season, Jamie Ashworth understands the hesitancy. Before private dining became popular, the winter created apparent issues. However, there are multiple ways to enjoy private dining outdoors, even when it’s cold outside.

Bubble Dining

Bubble dining is ideal for chilly atmospheres. Setting up plastic bubbles or tents around an outdoor table allows an entire party to enjoy electric heat. Sometimes these “heated igloos” are placed on buildings or around the restaurant itself.

Heated igloos can be pretty large and may fit several people all at once. Lounge chairs are not uncommon and a set of smaller tables. Heat lamps are quiet and are designed to be unobtrusive. Many restaurants that offer bubble dining also serve flavorful cuisine from around the world.

Empty Restaurants

A common private dining option includes eating in an empty restaurant. Certain restaurants are known to place mannequins in the empty seats. Across Europe, it is not uncommon to see blow-up dolls lounging at the bar.

Empty restaurants can usually accommodate more diners in the winter than outdoor bubbles. More room is available for large or multiple dishes, and several diners can easily make themselves comfortable. Existing four and five-star restaurants have already adapted to this type of private dining.

Green Terraces

Small terraces that are designed for only a few people are now more trendy than ever. This is due to several reasons. Since the terrace can only fit two or three people, it’s often deemed a very romantic type of private dining. It also eliminates the space for other people.

In cities, these terraces often have several plants surrounding the table. This jungle-like vibe is ideal for intimate dining or for those who need a space outside of the city’s bustle. Green terraces are known for both fine dining and pastries.

Boat Restaurants

Boat dining usually requires a reservation. The dining party orders what they want before getting in the boat in many cases. The food can be picked up in a to-go restaurant that offers carry-out and then enjoyed on the water.

Some restaurants have their boats they rent out along with the meal, while others are located near ports. For those who want to privately dine on the water but do not enjoy boating, docks are another option.

The Future of Private Dining

Jamie Ashworth has already noticed differences in private dining. Not only are QR codes a new trend, but so is the way meals are presented. Chefs that adapt to the private dining area frequently design their meals to fit the space. This allows intimate crowds more room during the dining itself.

In 2021, almost 72% of consumers planned to hold an in-person event. This number is expected to rise. Social events are necessary for health, and since fine food brings individuals together, dining has already significantly changed.

Private dining is continuing to grow, in part, because of the restaurant owners themselves. The cost of private dining is attractive for many restaurateurs just starting their careers. Typically dining additions are a one-time investment. Food carts, for instance, are becoming popular for fine dining cuisine.

With a reduction in overhead costs, world-renowned chefs may become more accessible to the community. In a hybrid between takeout and eat-in service, private dining provides a unique service for all involved.

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