As an elementary school kid in the 1970’s, my family often dined at the Jerry’s Restaurant located on the main drag in Winchester, KY. I couldn’t wait to slide into the smooth shiny vinyl booths and order up a grilled cheese, onion rings and a hot fudge cake sundae. (The sound effect when my brother and I were wearing shorts always made us giggle.) Although there were table and chairs in the middle of the dining room, what we wanted was a booth around the perimeter! I always thought booths were the absolute American symbol of diners of the 1950’s. But interestingly, their creation is far older and hardly American.
Booth seating goes hand in hand with the development of the restaurant industry. Feeding people in public places has been documented for centuries and history is rich with tales of taverns and inns providing food and shelter for wayward travelers. The official beginnings of the restaurant business however point to the aftermath of the French Revolution. Chefs to the aristocratic families found themselves unemployed and began to open up their own establishments to showcase their talents. Restaurant is a French word, from present participle of restaurer, meaning to restore. Nourishment to restore one’s soul- bon appétit! Dining options moving out of private homes and into the public realm resulted in restaurants emerging all over Europe and eventually in America.
Original seating options in early restaurants were influenced by the 17th and 18th century practice of pew boxes for the British elite. Privacy and warmth were expected at church services and opera performances. Patrons expected the same during their dining experience. Booth seating provided the desired cozy, intimate atmosphere with some establishments going so far as to provide curtains as an added measure of privacy.
Times changed and the curtains came down but booths have remained as popular as ever … not only in the restaurant industry but in homes as well. Kitchen booths are less about privacy and more about maximizing seating options in tight spaces. They can provide the perfect solution to that awkward corner, making efficient use out of an otherwise difficult space. Built-in booths can provide value to a home as a finished look and can be customized in any shape and a variety of styles. If booth seating would work well in your kitchen remodeling ideas, we’ve had plenty of experience at AKB.
Come see us at the Little Yellow House of Big Ideas!