By Susan E. Bouchard, Age-Friendly Rhode Island
Marie Mackey noticed a stack of flyers on the counter of the West Warwick Senior Center, she picked one up. It read Community Table Night – Meet New People, Join Friends and Enjoy a Night Out – she thought that sounded like a good idea. She mentioned it to her friend and neighbor Judy Ferrante, and the two ladies decided to give it a try.
On a beautiful summer-like evening, the two friends arrived at Finn’s Harborside Restaurant along East Greenwich cove and joined the table of diners sitting together at a large community table.
The idea for this event came from a focus group of older adults hosted by Age-Friendly Rhode Island late last year in Westerly. Participants said that they sometimes had the time, the interest and the money to eat out, but didn’t have anyone to go with. The suggestion was made to partner with a local restaurant to offer a family-table concept. Participants would order directly from the menu with a separate check created for each diner. A large table would be set aside on a specific night so that older customers could opt to join the table, meet or make new friends, and enjoy a night out.
Taking this from idea to reality, Age-Friendly Rhode Island partnered with Lt. Gov. Dan McKee and his team and Finn’s Harborside Restaurant to give this new dining concept its inaugural run on Tuesday, June 19, 2018.
A restaurant known for its seafood, the table was filled with each diner’s choice, but it was mostly laughter and the ease of conversation that were most noticeable that evening. “We had a lot of laughs, it was a good time. We met a lot of nice people and I will be back again,’ said Ferrante. Her friend nodded in agreement adding, “The food was good and I really enjoyed meeting new people,” Mackey said.
If this first event is any indication, the next Community Table night will be in the works soon.