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The San Francisco Chronicle reports on the Bay Area’s enthusiasm for having counters in fancy restaurants overlooking display kitchens, where patrons can watch and even interact with chefs – a kind of culinary theater that is hard to beat.

“Eating at restaurant kitchen counters has been a long standing tradition here, even at gourmet places with expensive menus,” the Chronicle writes. “But the idea is catching on. From New York to Paris, chefs are building restaurants with chic counter seating in front of gleaming – and not-so gleaming -- exhibition kitchens. Patrons apparently love to watch. Maybe it's a return to Baby Boomers' diner roots or a way of taking reality TV mania into the kitchen.”

Counter eating used to be popular with people who dine by themselves, but the paper says that it is becoming increasingly attractive to couples and even large groups.
KC's View:
Counter eating always has been a favorite of ours, especially because we’re on the road by ourselves so much of the time.

But when we read this, we immediately thought of the Whole Foods store in Austin, Texas, where each of the service departments has a counter where people can sit and actually order and eat from that department’s selection.

It is a master stroke that increases the sense of community within the store, forcing the connection between shoppers and shopkeepers.