The picture above is my exact point of view when I was grabbing breakfast at Carolyn’s Essenhaus in Arlington, KS. It was an awesome breakfast where the service was wonderful.

When I arrived at the small-town restaurant, the server said I could grab a seat anywhere. I was there alone. The whole purpose of me going was to get some breakfast, get some quiet time to be myself, bring my laptop and eat and blog. Sometimes I dine by myself to reflect on things and just have some me time.

So, there I was sitting at the circular table, minding my own business. Next thing I know two men come in at separate times by themselves. They walk over to my table set their cups down, grab some pastries and sit right down at my table. There were probably 30 open tables spread out through the restaurant and they chose to sit at the one I was at.

Here were the thoughts going through my head:

  • What the hell?!?!?!
  • Did I take their table? Are they regulars?
  • Am I being punk’d or pranked right now?
  • Do I get up and move?
  • Are they fans of Wichita By E.B.?
  • Please don’t give me COVID.
  • Hey, let’s have everybody just sit at the same table together.
  • Is this a joke the locals play on town visitors?
  • WHY CAN’T I JUST HAVE MY ALONE TIME?

I didn’t know what to do. I thought about getting up and moving to another table, but that would have been painfully obvious. While they were sitting there, one guy just looked at his phone and another gentleman was perusing through a magazine.

It was complete silence. Nobody said a thing. I then thought about asking them if this was their table and apologizing and moving. I texted others to get some advice on what to do and nobody had anything worthwhile to offer. So, I continued sitting there in awkward silence.

Slowly, the two men begin to chat with each other while I am this odd man out. A server walked over, knew both men, took their order and walked off. Was I in the freaking Twilight Zone?

My food then arrived and I over ordered. I had an extra breakfast sandwich I didn’t want and offered it to my newfound breakfast companions. One guy looks at me and says, “I’ll take it”. He leans over, grabs the sandwich and goes back to his phone. That was the last time we exchanged words. It was such a weird experience.

He leaves and the other man looks at me and says, “You just passing through town?” I told him I came in from Wichita because I heard the food was good. He suggested I try the strawberry pie. I told him I would and offered to purchase him a pie as a thank you for the recommendation but he politely declined. Soon after, he would tab out and leave.

I finally had my peace and quiet.

After sharing the story with other friends later in the day, one friend from Kingman, KS told me her husband knew the exact table I was sitting at. He said that’s the “farmer’s table” and the one table where some locals would congregate and chat over breakfast or lunch. He said it’s safer to sit at square tables. Of all the tables inside the big restaurant of Carolyn’s Essenhaus, of course I happened to sit at the on table everybody wants to be at. A heads up from the server would have been nice. Apparently, this is pretty common in smaller towns and something I’m not used to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-social but sometimes I want me time.

Moving forward on all small-town visits, I’m only sitting at square tables.

Happy Dining,
Eddy


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Lover of Wichita, food, trying new things, exploring everything that life has to offer, the Shockers, and most of all my family.

6 COMMENTS

  1. This blog had me and my boyfriend cracking up!! I grew up in that little town and knew exactly by the picture and the title what had to have gone down before I even read it🤣
    Great article, thank you for the fun perspective and the great chuckle. And next time try the Hummingbird Cake, it’s the cats meow😍😎

  2. My parents are from small towns netlarge Wichita & I can say that the people in their hometowns would have went out of their way to make you feel comfortable & been pulling your ear the entire time they were there.
    Bummer these guys didn’t have the manners their mommas (hopefully) gave them.
    And yeah, the waitress should have given you a heads up.

  3. Your article was fascinating in the fact; why would you choose to sit at a large round table if you didn’t want conversation? or company?

    • Good question. My original intention was to sit at the large table because I was going to order a big spread of food even though I wasn’t going to eat it all. The restaurant was on my list to highlight. I wanted the space to take lots of pictures to spread out. There were other large tables of similar size that were open; just didn’t know the one I chose was the farming table.

  4. E. B., You missed out on a great opportunity. You should have soaked up the opportunity to make new friends at the round table. As the saying goes, “A stranger is just a friend you have yet to meet”. Alone time? Depending on where you drove from in Wichita and where you drove back to, you had a good 2 1/2 to 3 hour round trip road time to have all to yourself. All i can say is, “What a missed opportunity!” P.S. If you’re wondering, I was in the family style restaurant business for 30 plus years and owned a couple. This is until my heart health happened. Safe travels my friend.

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