Over the past few years, the tiny house movement has morphed from being a trend and entered the American mainstream. What a difference a decade makes—it seems like only yesterday that we were obsessed with the size of our McMansions. Now, apparently, we’ve entered the era of Thrifty Chic.
The trend in small spaces has also created a surge in tiny restaurants: across the country, serious establishments are popping up that seat less than 30 diners in a space much smaller than 1000 square feet. One of the hottest new restaurants in America is Petit Trois in L.A., accommodating 21 customers in 900 square feet. The Filipino-themed Bad Saint, in Washington, D.C., seats 24, and Talula’s Table in Chester County, Pa., holds space for only twelve. Obviously, the food truck craze can also be seem as an extension of the trend toward tiny restaurants.
There are obvious advantages to such a streamlined operation: the startup costs are much lower, and no more than two or three staff members can fit at any one time. Customers are crammed close together, which sometimes leads to new friendships. That very closeness is also the source of some problems. If you don’t like your neighbors, or if you prefer to have a private, intimate conversation, the tiny restaurant may not be for you. The small space also leaves no room for error: any mistakes made by the kitchen are magnified and noticed by everyone in the room.
The title of the world’s smallest restaurant goes to an establishment in the Lazio province of Italy called Solo per Due, which contains—you guessed it—a single table for two. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, and reservations are obviously essential. It markets itself as the ultimate destination for a romantic evening: on arrival, the driveway is lit with candles, and the table is festooned with fresh flowers. Romance at Solo per Due doesn’t come cheap. The cost is 250 Euros per person, which includes service and house-chosen wines. If you want Champagne or finer wines, the cost of intimate dining goes up.
Mark Spivak is the author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History (Lyons Press, 2012) and Moonshine Nation (Lyons Press, 2014); his first novel, Friend of the Devil, is now available from Black Opal Books. For more information, go to amazon.com.