With the holidays here many of us will be joined together for family gatherings, whether at home or dining out… it’s one of the busiest times of the year, but what about those that may be alone, for whatever reason… it doesn’t mean you have to live like a hermit. Sometimes it feels good to go out and have a nice quiet meal by yourself, and let’s face it… at some point in your life, most likely you will probably eat alone at a restaurant or fast food establishment. Once you have dined solo a few times, it comes with ease… and don’t kid yourself, it can be very relaxing; not to mention enjoyable. At times, I’ve taken paperwork along and a tablet for my notes; taking advantage of time alone, writing or journaling. Whatever your pleasure may be, dining alone isn’t unusual any longer. In fact, one out of seven people (or more) are now flying solo in more ways than one, such as living by themselves, traveling with their jobs, or just prefer to be alone. Dining out solo is not uncommon and no longer stigmatized by others.
So what about the wait staff? You arrive at the restaurant (solo) and as you’re approached, the question asked is… “How many please?” You look them in the face and say “Just one.” With a puzzled look on their face, they look around at the seating and tell you to follow them. As you sit, they hand you a menu. Suddenly the waiter approaches, glancing at your table and asks “Will someone be joining you?” Now don’t you think at this point the hostess and waiter communicated? Sometimes they can be relentless in their questions, allowing one to feel ‘odd’ about being alone. Maybe it’s time some of these people in the restaurant business get a little training on the new trend of ‘flying solo.’ Being alone is more common than not. I am comfortable dining alone and normally don’t let things bother me, but for others that are not quite acclimated to being solo, it is almost rude for the wait staff to look at one with that weird, puzzled facial expression, while continuing to ask questions about your dining solo.
While Americans are emerging into new types of lifestyles (alone), businesses such as restaurants need to be more accommodating; some of them are putting in eating bars for single diners, though we are still a long way from that with most. There is a website that has some interesting suggestions on local restaurants in your area along with dining tips, it is… www.diningsolo.com and I found it informative, as I hope you will too. There is no need to ride through the drive-thru to pick up a meal if you are alone, most likely that will lead to unhealthy eating, so fear not… grab yourself a newspaper or smartphone and walk through that door of the establishment you always wanted to dine in. Eating solo is a bit of an adjustment, but with time (like everything else), it becomes easier, and you might even enjoy it, though understand… it won’t be for everyone. Hopefully in time…these businesses will educate their wait staff on how to handle solo diners in a congenial manner, and how to provide the same good service to the single diner as they do with a table of two or more. Yes… service is another issue. The so-called wait staff is more apt to give better service to the table with more diners, because they are thinking about their tip. Is it wrong? I believe it is, and really it doesn’t matter to the solo diner because they understand; somewhat. However, if I were to get exceptional service… it is worth it and is passed on to the waiter. So really, it is at the fault of the waiter if they are not attentive to the single table, because it doesn’t guarantee a better tip at the larger table. ‘Live and learn’ is what I say to the wait staff. Do not ignore the solo diner; you never know who that person is, when in fact… it might be someone who is writing a review on your establishment or better yet… the service.
Make your week count.