Community Through Eating

April 25, 2024 • Louie Mantia

My main method of building community is going to the same restaurants over and over. I understand people who want to eat at new places all the time, but I really love feeling at home more than just at home.

It feels great to build relationships with restaurant staff. When my favorite Italian place in Portland learned I never managed to be there when they served lasagna, they made a huge thing out of it and coordinated around my schedule and made it only for me. It was extremely sweet and would never happen if I went only once.

But it’s also about becoming familiar with the environment and other customers too. I’ve met people who frequent several of the same places I do in my Tokyo neighborhood, and that connects all these little dots between the places I’ve seen them.

I’m definitely more outgoing than shy, but when I moved here, I discovered a new kind of shy. I think I was really scared of feeling out of place. Now, I feel comfortable with being the odd one out. I will always be. From that, I learned I’m not the odd one out, there are others like that too. And those tend to be the people I meet.

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