As the United States rolls back pandemic era restrictions, many restaurants are welcoming eaters back and expanding their seating capacity. After more than a year of isolation, reopenings offer a sorely missed space to connect. 

Doug Mack discusses an article he wrote for The Counter, which examines the social and cultural benefits of gathering spaces like restaurants by drawing on the academic concept of a “third place.” Plus, enjoy anecdotes from eaters about what they have missed most about dining out and the reasons restaurants are more than the food they serve. 

This episode was produced in collaboration with The Counter – a nonprofit, independent, nonpartisan newsroom investigating the forces shaping how and what America eats.

Special thanks to everyone in the HRN community who shared their memories and anecdotes: Shari Bayer, Nikki Salazar, Alicia Qian, Caroline Fox and Tash Kimmel. 

Have a question you want answered? Email us at [email protected]


This project is funded in part by a Humanities New York CARES Grant with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the federal CARES Act. 

This program is also supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

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