Perhaps it’s because I’m not an outgoing millennial, or maybe it’s the fact that I don’t enjoy small talk, or maybe it’s just human decency, but I think OpenTable‘s new feature to pair up diners eating alone in restaurants sounds horrible.

Food & Wine writes that the restaurant reservation app has joined up with Virginia Tourism to create a new feature called OpenSeat. At select restaurants in Virginia, people making reservations via OpenTable can write in “OpenSeat” in the special request section. If another singleton (ugh, how badly do I date myself with that reference?) shows up at the restaurant with the same “OpenSeat” note, the two will be seated together and even get a free appetizer. (What happens if more than two singles show up?)

I’m not sure where to begin.

“Creepy,” and “So so awkward” were how my Spoon colleagues referred to the idea on our Slack channel. And they are not wrong.

At least on dating apps people can see and swipe others before communicating. Having someone get automatically seated at your table sounds like a recipe for social disaster. How does one gracefully excuse themselves when some jerk pulls up a chair and starts yapping about his collection of exotic teeth?

Yes, that is a worst case scenario, and perhaps it could be fun if you were traveling in a strange city and got seated with a normal person. And I’m all for restaurants and even reservation services trying out new things and new ways to monetize their experiences.

Still sounds horrible. But obviously I’m just too closed minded for OpenSeat.

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  1. As someone who eats out alone more often than not, I’d love to be paired up with someone. I’m very introverted but not shy. I can easily talk to anyone about anything. Sometimes I just don’t want to eat alone.

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