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Tall tables...what is it with this?

I am used to tall (i.e., barstool height) tables in bars or lounges. Lately I perceive a proliferation of this even to higher end restaurants. The Starbucks in Miami has just added them, my Argentinian breakfast place also, as well as a more upscale restaurant in New Hampshire. Without starting intergenerational conflict, my thought is that this is geared to the younger population. Has anyone else noticed this "upward" shift in table size?

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  1. probably gets the customer out faster! They are not conducive to lingering.

    1. Oh, no; I think very low chairs are harder for oldsters to get out of. I notice most of these tables are relatively small, and the chairs more like stools that may or may not have backs. I have seen some, however, that are upholstered and have arms, and they're as comfy as you'd wish. And there's plenty of leg room, for the most part.

      2 Replies
      1. re: lemons

        Absolutely not. Regular height chairs are much easier for elderly people than elevated stools.

        When I'm eating out with my elderly parents and in-laws (I have many of them due to divorces and remarriages), we can't even consider the high stool-type tables because they can't hoist themselves up on the stool or if they can, they can't comfortably balance there and then they certainly can't hop down easily. They're not looking for extra leg room or more upholstery. They are looking for something that they can get in and out of easily with their compromised balance and creaky hips and knees.

        The fact that I come from a family of short people -- on all sides -- only adds to this. Bar stools are not easy on short people, even young short people, especially if the stools don't have foot rails that you can reach.

        1. re: taos

          Agreed. I am 5'4 AND 1/2", which makes me the tallest female in my nuclear family. Mom was 4'10" at her tallest and now, at 82, she is closer to 4'7". She does not need leg room (she actually uses a stepstool to look at the heating controls in the house ;)

          Whenever I eat out with her it must be a table. Her feet still don't usually hit the floor, but she can at least pull herself close enough to the table.

      2. I've noticed it mostly in bar&grill/casual dining places, or on the bar side of more upscale places.

        I'm conscious of it bacause I can't use them. I can sit at the bar if a rail, or, even better, a step is there to use as a footrest. But bar-height tables will have me getting up get back the circulation in my legs every 10 minutes or so!

        1 Reply
        1. re: brandywiner

          I'm in total agreement with you, b'winer. My feet hardly touch the ground when I'm on a counter stool. I'd never agree to sitting on a bar stool for an entire meal.

        2. 29 years old - and will eat somewhere else if the "hightop table/chairs" are the only seats available. .

            1. re: invinotheresverde

              I'm 4' 10 1/2" and absolutely hate them. Gee - I wonder why? ;-) I usually only see tall tables somewhere near the bar area. Not as the normal sit-down dinner experience.

              1. re: boyzoma

                I'm 5' even, and I hate, hate, hate high tables and chairs. There is not graceful way for me to climb on to the damn things and when getting off the chairs, I always feel like I'm jumping down.

                1. re: merkay

                  merkay - you said it exactly. And, if the stool or chair has a rung for your feet, it is NEVER at the right height for me. I feel like the Lilly Tomlin character "Edith Ann" swinging my feet!

                      1. re: boyzoma


                        I'm several inches taller than you, but a long way from tall...and you've described my thoughts exactly.

                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    I'm tall too and love 'em but my 5'7" DH, not so much!

                  2. About 8 years ago a furnishings store was going out of business and were selling those tables (and chairs) as outdoor furniture. 75% off. Unique.

                    We set up a separate 'area' on the deck for that table and two chairs and use that table more than the other larger, low table.

                    We have dogs and this table is not at their eye level...

                    1. I like'em, as long as the chairs have foot rails. I'm 6' even, but Mrs. O and various other less tall folks of my acquaintance seem to like them too. I do not agree that they discourage lingering. I have lingered long and happily at several of these.

                      The kind of seating I truly hate are the booths whose settees are so low they make me feel like I'm eight years old again! Why should a 6' man feel in need of a booster seat?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Will Owen

                        "Why should a 6' man feel in need of a booster seat?"

                        Ya gotta love it. Now in that situation, can you imagine how I would feel?????

                        Thank you for giving me that visual chuckle ;-)

                        1. re: boyzoma

                          Seriously, a couple of our favorite places offer food experiences that are marred only by the tabletops' being damn near chin-high! Is this some sneaky ploy to make people keep their elbows off the table? There's a diner in Ventura I prefer to visit in a large-ish company, just so I can be the "martyr" who sits on a chair in the aisle, up high enough to, ummm, put my elbows on the table. If I did that sort of thing.

                      2. Just some quick thoughts
                        Pros: You're the same height as your server. Easier for them to clean up. It gives the area, especially when across from the bar, as a bigger feel. You can actually gain true space, because people will not have to stretch their legs out, thus allowing for a smaller table.
                        Cons: Dead Leg after sitting a while. Not conducive to elderly or young children. I find you rarely see these with table cloths, somewhat downgrading the "look" of the establishment. Some people just see it as a bar and not a restaurant if they have them.
                        Personally. I love them. I am neither tall nor that young. I just prefer them.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: jhopp217

                          In addition:

                          Another pro is, esthetically it can help to make the place more interesting or appealing, by having different heights for tables and chairs. Just like how different kinds of lighting put together can have a similar effect.

                          Another con (possibly a pro for the establishment?) is, in addition to the young and the elderly, this arrangement also singles out those in a wheelchair or in similar compromised physical conditions. It thus appears that it promotes a certain kind of elitism, that you have to fall within certain criteria, for the tall furniture to be suitable for you.

                          Personally, I enjoy the taller view, but only when I am not worried about losing eye contact with my young one in her stroller.

                          1. re: vil

                            Good point about the wheel chairs. I was in a place that had just opened last year that ONLY had high seating. I remember asking the bartender what they did to accomodate those in wheel chairs...he paused and said "I have no idea!"

                            1. re: jhopp217

                              What a reply from the bartender!

                              I also recently visited a new eatery I had wanted to try, and then learned that they only had tall seating. I was with my two-year-old and we ended up ordering the food for takeout. To me, to offer no regular-height seating at all felt like less of an oversight and more of an intention to exclude certain clientele.

                        2. I will often choose the tall table/tall chairs option simply because the distance from tabletop to seat surface seems to be a little less than the standard *lower* seating. I am a tall person, but it seems that at a lower table the seat is often just *too low* relative to the tabletop for dining comfort. I can deal with this mostly, but my preference is a shorter seat level-to-tabletop ratio. Even being tall, the dead-leg syndrome does kick in. Perhaps there's some room for some yippity-skippity ergonomic designers to address dead leg?!

                          Really, it's a tough thing to address so many different body-types of one's customers and I sympathize. But is there an optimal distance for seat level to table top? It seems I too often sit on chairs that are too low. I outgrew the kids' table long ago.


                          1. Hate them, won't sit at them. I don't carry a bloody stepstool around with me to restaurants, for crying out loud.

                            Handy for floods, I suppose.

                            1. Im 6'2" and hate the damn high tops - so height may be an overplayed factor here

                              1. I think part of it is the varied aesthetic effect, and part of it is just that they're darned trendy right now. I actually bought one when I needed a new dining room table - partly because I use my dining room table more as auxiliary counter space than as an actual sit-down table, and partly because my dining room just looks more balanced with a higher table. But as a short girl, I also bought a small, square ottoman to put under it, so the dead-leg danger is reduced for my guests. :) What can I say? This short girl likes to sit up high to see what the squirrels are doing outside.

                                1. Okay, after giving it some more thought: I like them because my face and the server's face are at approximately the same altitude. I like them because I'm taking up a bit less floor space and people can get by me with a minimum of jostling, and I'll never catch someone's butt in my face. I like them for the same reason servers like them: service is waist-high and therefore easier, with much less chance of spillage. And if the place has an open kitchen I get to watch my steak or burger or whatever get cooked, and can pick up some moves from the professionals.

                                  Now that I'm old and creaky, those chairs are not just easier to get into, they're a hell of a lot easier to get out of. As for "dead leg", any place that has tall chairs with no rungs for foot rests should be boycotted - there's no excuse for that!

                                  1. I noticed that in our local Subway and Starbucks there are both regular and high tables. The few times DH and I stopped at these places we grabbed the higher table, but I contribute this to having a pub-height dining table at home.
                                    I actually love the higher table at home since we are both tall and it is much easier to decorate cookies and wrap gifts on it. Even my tiny 4'11" mom likes the higher table, she says it makes her feel tall.

                                    1. i don't mind hi tops, i do find them a little less formal. but i sometimes wear short-ish skirts, and hosts try to steer us toward the hi-tops. . . and i'm really *not* trying to flash the folks in the booths, who are eye-level with my crotch, or keep my legs uncomfortably tightly crossed while teetering on a barstool, trying to eat, thanks. dh gets this without me needing to say anything-- when i'm wearing a mini, he reflexively (nicely) refuses the hi-top and asks: hey can we have a regular table? some very oblivious male hosts still will persist in trying to get us into the hi top, so then i'll explain-- & i pretty much make sure they are blushing by the end of my explanation, i figure maybe it will help the next woman wearing a skirt above the knee.

                                      1. Husband and I are both tall so we don't mind them at a casual place. Where I live, the high tables are generally in the bar area. Sometimes we like to have a bird's eye view of the goings on.

                                        My mom, who is petite, refuses to sit at high tops.

                                        1. Love them. Also have one at home instead of a dining room table. Although this will change soon, and I have cocktail parties, not dinner parties, until because that works better. It's great because people can sit at the table without killing the party vibe. That's the great thing about them.

                                          When I'm out, I like varied heights of seating if the place is supposed to be energetic for the same reason. We always sit at tall tables in the bar when we can. I have no idea why I like them - maybe because I hang my coat on the back and it doesn't drag on the floor? Maybe I associate it with cocktails? I have no idea.

                                          1. Interesting point about the wheelchairs. My stepdaughter who uses a scooter all the time because of her MS fins high tables much easier than regular height ones, because the scooter puts her a good 6" above where a w/c would.

                                            And as for hauling out of low chairs for the elderly....I keep seeing my parents (years ago) and our friends past 70 or so struggling to get out of our sofas and dining room chairs, and think what we all want is a happy medium.

                                            1. seems to be a trend in the furniture world. started to notice them the last couple of years in furniture stores. don't like them at all.

                                              1. I them in bars, as you are closer to your companions and it is easier to talk over the bar noise, but I wouldn't care for them for an entire meal.

                                                1. I actually have a set at home too. I find that it helps to define the space better, especially if you do not have that much to begin with.