Table for One: An Immersive New Reality in Restaurant Dining

one table, one chair, and a picnic basket in the middle of a lush meadow
one table, one chair, and a picnic basket in the middle of a lush meadow in Värmland, Sweden
Photo: Bord för En/Facebook

As sanctions continue to lessen and physical distancing rules are easing across the globe, many people are eager to get back to some semblance of routine. The fact remains that a post-COVID-19 world will not look the same no matter how quickly we return. And in no aspect of social life is that harsh reality felt greater than in the hospitality industry. However, one “restaurant” in Sweden is taking a unique approach to dining—an approach that may well become the new normal.

Bord för En (“Table For One“) is a pop-up eatery in Värmland, Sweden, about 217 miles (350 kilometers) west of Stockholm, with some unusual characteristics. For starters, the site offers gourmet meals comprised of stately and sumptuous-looking fare made from farm-fresh ingredients and local delicacies. Actually, the menu is about the only thing that looks familiar.

When concocting the premise for the diner, owners Rasmus Persson and Linda Karlsson insisted on great food experienced and enjoyed in total isolation. Just one table, one chair, and a picnic basket. You see, at Bord för En, there is no waitstaff; there is no ambient din consisting of low chatter and the clinking of glasses; there is no artwork to admire. Instead, at Bord för En, one singular visitor is served at the restaurant’s sole table and chair in the middle of a lush meadow.

owners of Bord för En, Linda Karlsson and Rasmus Persson
Owners of Bord för En, Linda Karlsson and Rasmus Persson – Photo: Bord för En

The spirit of Bord för En is serene and contemplative, but also accommodating. All solo guests are free from prying eyes, are not interacted with (the picnic basket brings meals to the table from the kitchen window via a rope), and, in the end, invited to pay what they can—a gesture that is reflective of the harsh economic times. The owners insist that they are not in this for the money, but rather to lessen the social awkwardness surrounding solo dining in public. And after the last few months, we certainly need it.

Bord för En currently runs until August 1, 2020.