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Solo Dining


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#1 Rail Paul

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 03:28 AM

Frank Bruni has a blog item about his increased notice of individuals dining alone, and how they're accepted in restaurants. Many treat these diners as VIPs, offering either a table seat, or a space at the bar. Others offer space at the communal table, and a few even play matchmaker from time to time.

I’ve always assumed that restaurants don’t want solo diners at tables, because there aren’t any tables expressly set up for one person. The solo diner is going to have an empty seat, which equals lost revenue, across from him or her.

But Mr. Coraine told me that I’m wrong. He said the solo diner is giving a restaurant one of the greatest compliments it can get.

“The single diner has no other agenda but to eat in your restaurant,” he said. “They’re not there for business, they’re not there for romance.” They’re there for the restaurant’s food and service.

He added: “I think there are some operators who see someone walk in alone and say, ‘Here comes some lost revenue.’ I look at it as: here comes tomorrow’s six-top.” A two-top, four-top or six-top is restaurant parlance for a party of two, four or six.



I'll have a table for one, thank you
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#2 joiei

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 04:34 AM

I can recommend the Bluestem in Kansas City as a singles friendly restaurant.
"Love ya once, love ya twice, love ya more than beans and rice"

#3 Guest_24k_*

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 05:47 AM

I have seriously diverging tastes from my BF -- so much so that when I want to experience a restaurant, it is infinitely easier for me to head out alone. I will occasionally go with a friend, but then that experience becomes one of catching up with the friend and not concentrating on the food.

I probably dine solo upwards of twice or three times a month for that very reason.

#4 g.johnson

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 10:58 AM

Dining alone, I find that wearing a suit, speaking in a French accent and carrying a clipboard ensures exemplary service.
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#5 Guest_Aaron T_*

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 11:52 AM

Dining alone, I find that wearing a suit, speaking in a French accent and carrying a clipboard ensures exemplary service.


There is something about carrying a clipboard that gets me "special" treatment wherever I go. I like to tell them I am a mystery shopper.

#6 Peter Creasey

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 02:17 PM

a few even play matchmaker from time to time.


Paul, I've "heard" that a few even branch into what is almost promoting, or facilitating, prostitution.
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#7 StephanieL

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 02:44 PM

I dine alone far more often than I dine with others, and I've had no real problems anywhere I've gone. My strategies: (1) eat early, before the restaurant gets crowded. I generally prefer eating early, so not a problem for me; (2) bring a good book; (3) engage the waitstaff; (4) tip well. The only places I don't go alone are the very expensive ones (e.g., Chanterelle, Jean-Georges, etc.), as I would personally feel uncomfortable being a party of one.

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#8 omnivorette

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 02:46 PM

I love eating at (GOOD) sushi bars by myself.
"It seems a positively Quixotic quest to defend food from being used as any kind of social signifier, as if it could avoid the fate of each other component of our everyday lives." -Wilfrid

#9 Liza

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 02:52 PM

I frequently eat whilst standing over other people's sinks. At home, it's just too sad.
“And another thing. You don't have to "move on" either. Not until you're ready. People say, Oh, you should be grateful. They say, Oh, it's time for you to move on. I'm like, What are you, a cop with a nightstick? I'll move on when I'm done playing the blues on my harmonica, thank you very much.

Really, people will tell you all kinds of garbage. Don't believe it.

You don't have to move on until you're ready.”

#10 Wilfrid1

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 03:35 PM

I got used to dining alone in the years I travelled constantly for work. Sometimes it's nice to concentrate just on the food.
Elect-a-lujah

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#11 Cathy

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 04:14 PM

Same for me, Wilf. I had some wonderful experiences, most notably at The Square in London (on my birthday), Ledoyen in Paris and the Cape Cod Room at the old Drake hotel in Chicago (my first "upscale" solo dining foray). I don't ever recall being treated shabbily as a woman dining alone. I did get some fishy stares when I stumbled into a subterranean sushi restaurant in London years ago, but that's because I was the only non-Japanese in the place. ;) The chef warmed up when I ordered herring roe.
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#12 Wilfrid1

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 04:45 PM

Well done.

Some servers raise an eyebrow when they see a solo diner, not least because they assume a smaller tip from that table. I have found that ordering a glass of champagne and demanding a wine list breaks the ice.

And I've certainly had the feeling that restaurants think I am a reviewer or someone from a restaurant guide.
Elect-a-lujah

***Every Monday***At the Sign of the Pink Pig.

If the author could go around the place hitting random readers with a rubber hammer, the Pink Pig would still be worth a visit.

#13 mitchells

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 04:51 PM

I despise eating alone at a table. I have this weird feeling that everyone is staring at me. Plus, what do you do in between courses? No one to talk to.

I enjoy eating alone at a bar or counter where I can always talk to other customers or the bartender.

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#14 rancho_gordo

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 04:53 PM

Same for me, Wilf. I had some wonderful experiences, most notably at The Square in London (on my birthday)


I turned 21 in London, eating by myself in an Indian restaurant. I was so happy and proud and it was one of my favorite meals. I remember thinking, "I've pulled this off! I survived childhood and I'm eating Indian food in London! I am in charge, now!" So naive!

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#15 Maurice Naughton

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Posted 20 December 2006 - 04:55 PM

I dine alone almost every day. I can't figure out why no one will eat with me.
Cambridge University Professor of Electrical Engineering, Sir Charles Oatley, in October, 1948, along with his student Dennis McMullan, began the research that led to the production of the first scanning electron microscope in 1965.

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