The OpenSeat program, which allows diners to share an open seat at their table with a stranger, will launch in Virginia.
If you're deeply introverted, you may want to avoid reading this altogether, because this is your nightmare. OpenTable, the restaurant reservations website, has partnered with Virginia Tourism to launch a new program called OpenSeat that will pair solo diners with other solo diners who are, for whatever reason, interested in meeting someone new.
More than 30 restaurants across Virginia will participate in the program, which works like this: Solo diners making reservations on OpenTable can book their table at a participating restaurant and write "OpenSeat" in the notes section. When they arrive to eat, if another party has also put "OpenSeat" in the notes section, they will be seated at the same table. Participants will also receive a complimentary appetizer, which is not an insignificant perk.
“To paraphrase William Butler Yeats, there are no strangers, only friends we haven’t yet met,” said Caroline Potter, OpenTable’s Chief Dining Officer, in a statement. “And what better way to get to know people in the community than by sharing a delicious meal in a welcoming setting. We look forward to hearing about the connections made around the table through this program.”
We imagine that if the Virginia program is successful, it could roll out to other states. Tinder, watch out.
If you're less interested in meeting new people and more interested in sitting quietly at your favorite seat with a book in hand, you may be more interested in another new-ish feature from OpenTable, which allows you to book your favorite seat in advance.
For a list of participating restaurants and a bit more information on the program, see here.