The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
Mandy is a copy editor. She doesn’t really get along with the people she works with. So although she gets an hour for her lunch break but tends to take it on her own in Pret A Manger, reading a book.
Tom works for a charity in Oxford but often comes down to London for meetings – but there are often gaps between them, during which he struggles to fill the time wandering the city or drinking tea on his own.
Paul is setting up his own freelance design company. He really likes what he’s doing but is now working from home, whereas he used to work in a big office. He misses the human contact, so often works in cafes in his area, but a lot of the time, he finds this even more isolating as he still doesn’t get to talk to anyone.
All three of them discover the ‘Talk to me’ restaurant, and decide to try it out. They end up sitting at a table together and spend an hour talking and laughing. For Mandy, it’s a welcome escape from Pret A Manger, for Tom, it’s great to know that there’s somewhere to go to fill the time, for Paul it’s a great way to get out of the house.
They might meet up again, they might not. They might become friends, they might not. They might become business partners, they might not. But that little bit of human contact they get during their lunchtime chat means that they go back to their work and their lives more refreshed, happier and better connected.
In this way, ‘Talk to me’ restaurant is a completely new concept for a restaurant, in which talking to people you don’t know is encouraged. This would be achieved through the fostering of a welcoming atmosphere as well as the layout of the space – a seating arrangement that brings people together (long tables, like Wagamamas). There would also be daily conversation menus on the tables which would feature topics to inspire conversation, ranging from current affairs to trivia. The restaurant's success would be helped by its self-selecting nature, as it would be patronised by people who want to talk.
Of course, food is the great social binder in human social relations – sitting down for a meal creates a joint experience that can aid conversation. The high quality of the food, and the fact that it would be ethically sourced and modestly priced would also be a major attraction.
If successful, the concept could be easily franchisable both in London and in other cities in the UK. The restaurant could be run as a CIC (Community Interest Company), in which all profits will be reinvested in the business or in supplementary activities around the area of talking.