Does a high quality (e.g. fabric as opposed to paper) tablecloth affect customers’ enjoyment of a meal in a restaurant? Surprisingly perhaps, up until 2019, this question had not been scientifically examined. But now a team from the Department of Food Science, at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and the Center for Food and Hospitality Research, Institut Paul Bocuse, France, have completed the first such study, examining the reactions of 247 paying (26 € per person) customers in a controlled experimental setting.
“The results demonstrated a fabric table linen contributed to a significant higher preference of the appetiser, first course consumed upon arrival, and of the meal quality in general. The fabric linen had no significant impact on the liking of the main dish and dessert, which were preferred similarly to that of paper table linen.“
It’s as yet unclear why the fabric cloth might have affected the main dish and dessert less than the appetiser.
See: The impact of tablecloth on consumers’ food perception in real-life eating situation in Food Quality and Preference, Volume 71, January 2019, Pages 168-171