The Guest Experience: Bringing Back Hospitality
Pub puts emphasis on communal seating.
Tilted Kit Pub & Eatery is in change mode. The 95-location concept is changing up its seating to offer more communal tables in order to foster a greater feeling of hospitality.
The Tempe, Arizona-based franchise chain is creating a new prototype, which it will open in its hometown at the end of this month (editorial note: that’s July), then new builds will conform to this style. Some older locations will be retrofitted.
Most people visit Tilted Kilt in groups, though it does attract solo guests during happy hour. “There’s nothing more awkward and uncomfortable than sitting at a four-top by yourself,” says president Ron Lynch. “And a lot of people don’t want to sit at the bar but will sit at the communal tables, especially in our atmosphere, where you have TVs and sports going on. It’s taking us back to that old public house where you might strike up a conversation with someone next to you.”
The focal part of the new design will be a captain’s table and six crew tables.
The former will seat 30 and will run down the center of the pub. This table is solid wood with a gull wing armrest. “It’s like being at the bar, but not,” says Lynch. The pubs already have a captain’s table but he’s changing the look from mahogany wood to copper with mahogany around the sides “to give it an old world feel,” he says. “We’re dressing it up a bit so it’s different from the bar.”
Lynch expects these tables to especially appeal to smaller groups, since they allow people to sit across from each other.” The beauty of communal tables, he says, is they allow guests to socialize both within their groups and with other people.
The three crew tables will be bright orange to make them stand out, and will be six- to eight-tops. These tables will be further from the bar “and are just another option of seating,” Lynch says.
A third type of communal seating will be the Poet’s Corner, an area in the corner with library-like décor and banquette and chair seating for up to 20 people. This will be especially used for larger groups; the captain and crew table will be used for single guests or smaller groups.
There are challenges to communal seating. “People don’t always want to sit right next to someone they don’t know, leaving open seats. And they sometimes don’t like to sit across from someone they don’t know,” Lynch explains.
And it’s important not to overdo the communal feel “because not everyone who comes in is in a group or is there to socialize. Some come to eat and stay for long periods of time and prefer to have a private table.”
The main reason for adding the communal tables to the new prototype is hospitality, Lynch says. But there’s another reason, too: Because change is good. “It gives people things to talk about and that’s one of the reasons we’re doing this prototype. We’re throwing our banner out there to get top of mind awareness.”