I had admired the book of essays by David Mamet on bookstore shelves for years before I actually bought and read it. The actual subject matter of Writing in Restaurants turned out to be not what I had imagined. The problem was one of projection. I was thinking about my own experiences with writing in restaurants. Mamet, it turns out, is a completely different person.
As you might guess, if you haven’t read the essay, Mamet the playwright, thinks of the restaurant from a theatrical point of view. There were some similar issues; he considers this space which is somehow both public and private. A writer in a restaurant both observes and (yikes!) gets observed.
There was an era of my life in which I did lots of restaurant writing. I can’t pinpoint specific poems to particular locations, but I do have fond memories of filling up pages of my journal in afternoon cafes. Now that I work a lot, I do less restaurant scribbling than I did when I was teaching or going to school. My friend Stacy Aab does a whole lot of writing at Empire. Years ago I believe my buddy Tom Cambronne wrote exclusively in dining establishments. Add your own story in the comments section, if you feel like it.