If I were single, I know which restaurant I would frequent, Myers+Chang. Why? Because that is where so many women are dining. Almost 85% of the restaurant's customers are female. A staggering statistic which shocked me when I first heard it.
In the current Stuff Magazine (11/17-11/30/09), there is an interview (p.58) with Christopher Myers, co-owner of Myers+Chang. Christopher stated that their clientele is almost 85% women. He believes that might be due to the restaurant serving many small plates. He assumes that many men in Boston don't want to share plates with others, or eat off a plate that is sitting in front of another.
I also spoke with Chef Joanne Chang, Christopher's wife and co-owner of the restaurant. She confirmed the statistic about their clientele and further supported the potential reasons for such. Though the restaurant often sees groups of women dining together, they rarely see groups of men there. Usually, the men that do dine there are accompanied by women. It does not seem the type of place that businessmen choose for business meetings.
So, is there such a gender difference over sharing small plates? Do men have problems sharing small plates with other men? If so, why do they feel that way? Are women just more social and willing to share?
Until I learned the statistic about Myers+Chang, I would not have imagined it was a place frequented far more by women. To me, it was a restaurant that should appeal to both men and women. I saw nothing inherently feminine about the restaurant. Plus, I am not bothered by sharing small plates with a group of my male friends, and have done so at other small plate restaurants.
But now that I have pondered about it, I can understand how some men might feel. Sharing plates can be seen as an intimate act, and probably not appropriate for most business meetings. And some men probably don't want to do something that intimate, even with their male friends. It may seem more an act they would only do with a wife or girlfriend. A brief poll of several men on Twitter showed a division, that some men felt like me while others did have issues with sharing plates.
It might be just a cultural matter particular to American men, or men from similar cultures. For example, in numerous Asian cultures, sharing plates is very common. So maybe they would not have the same issue as American men.
But why doesn't a group of men go to Myers+Chang and each order their own group of small plates? Nothing says they have to share the dishes they order. They are missing out on some great food. And all of the women that are there! Maybe these men should reconsider their position.