From a comment I left at a recent post at Uncouth Reflections, which asked why the food scene appears to be thriving compared to other cultural fields:
Seems like food isn't as social as the other art & entertainment forms, both on the production and consumption sides. Think of how much trust and team-mindedness you need to pull off a great movie or pop song. The musicians, sound engineers, actors, and film crew seem to go way far out there in opening up and giving more to one another.
Food isn't as collaborative, so when social cohesion begins to loosen, it isn't struck as hard as movies and music are. There’s the lone mad genius thinking up / experimenting with the recipes, and a more rigidly hierarchical pyramid of workers to carry out his vision. That operates more on authority than collaboration.
Same thing on the audience’s side. Hearing great music in a social setting (live performance or in a dance club), or seeing a great movie in a crowded theater, makes it a thousand times better than if you’re alone. Everyone is feeding off of everyone else’s energy, and you feel more closely bound together.
Eating the same meal at a popular restaurant makes it more enjoyable than eating it at home — but not by a thousand times. Restaurants aren't as interactive or group-gluing as dance clubs or movie theaters. When you see a fellow patron tear into something and close their eyes in ecstasy, does that pump you up even a little bit? Not really. You’re not sharing the same gustatory and olfactory experience as your fellow patrons. Even if you coincidentally order the same meal as someone else, your actions and reactions are not synchronized. You’re each eating at your own separate rhythms.
At the dance club, everyone’s moving their bodies to the same rhythm, or splitting their sides laughing at the same scene in the movie theater.
So, when the society starts getting more anti-social, restaurants won’t be hit as hard as dance clubs, concerts, and movie theaters. You don’t need to be that sociable when you eat out.