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Restaurants with the "party of one"

Restaurants with the "party of one"

Old Oct 27, 14, 5:16 am
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Restaurants with the "party of one"

I think restaurants need to get a grip, and start learning how to deal with parties of one.
I often eat out alone, and I know other people do as well. Waiters/hosts don't seem to be well-equipped to deal with this phenomenon.

I can think of a few reasons people eat out alone:
1) you like good food
2) you are hungry

Thus, a few things are different when eating by yourself than when eating out with others (and having company)

Service speed: Sitting alone and waiting for 10 minutes before you are approached is unacceptable.

Greetings: I can't think of the best way to greet someone, but I have been sitting for quite a while before until I motioned a waitress over. She thought I was waiting for someone else. It also is awkward when someone has to confirm "one" multiple times (after the question "how many"?).

Seating order: I prefer to get seated in the order the customers arrived. I dislike it when I'm seated later, especially when the restaurant has plenty of space.

Attentiveness-if my back is facing the rest of the restaurant, it isn't as easy for me to catch someone's eye to get service. If you have 2 people, then one person is facing each direction and it isn't as difficult. So if waiters need to be more attentive for that reason, but also for the reason that I expect service. After all, why am I paying a tip? For horrible service? I'd rather get takeout.
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Old Oct 27, 14, 5:25 am
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Being Flyertalk, I'd note that reason 3) could be that you're in a city where you don't know a lot of people.

I agree though, some restaurants really struggle with people eating alone. For me the most annoying is when you get the bill and it's then impossible to actually pay. That's actually one of the things that annoys me the most when dining with other people as well, but it's worse when you're alone.
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Old Oct 27, 14, 8:51 am
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I eat out alone most of the time, and I rarely have a problem. However, it does happen once in every great while. Most of the time it manifests as the wait staff appearing bothered or simply going through the motions with me. I have no hesitation getting out of my chair to go hunt down the server or manager if necessary.
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Old Oct 27, 14, 9:01 am
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I dine alone from time to time, and I generally don't find it too awkward. Go to the right place, and it's possible that they will mistake you for a Michelin inspector.
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Old Oct 27, 14, 9:36 am
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Originally Posted by rjque View Post
I dine alone from time to time, and I generally don't find it too awkward. Go to the right place, and it's possible that they will mistake you for a Michelin inspector.
Funnily enough I'll often take a small pocket notebook with when I eat out - not just on my own - and it's amazing the difference in service when wait staff see you making notes.

Likewise photographing food as it arrives.
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Old Oct 27, 14, 9:42 am
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Originally Posted by Showbizguru View Post
Quote:





Originally Posted by rjque



I dine alone from time to time, and I generally don't find it too awkward. Go to the right place, and it's possible that they will mistake you for a Michelin inspector.




Funnily enough I'll often take a small pocket notebook with when I eat out - not just on my own - and it's amazing the difference in service when wait staff see you making notes.

Likewise photographing food as it arrives.
I'm going to remember this for the next time im out traveling alone.
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Old Oct 27, 14, 10:13 am
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Being on the road 365 days means every meal alone (15 years now). I guess I've gotten accustomed to some of the awkwardness all around (patrons, restauranteurs, maitre d', hosts). That said, I unconsciously gravitate toward places that are set up for solo diners. The tradeoff is that these tend to be rather functional establishments, as opposed to those that aspire toward the highest standards. I wish it wasn't so.
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Old Oct 27, 14, 11:40 am
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Maybe because I don't travel international much, but I don't seem to encounter this much. Yeah there have been cases where it has taken a while to get someone to come over or get the check, but looking around I find that I am not the only one with that issue in the restaurant. If anything I tend to find I get better service because being by yourself you tend to make a better "connection" with the server.
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Old Oct 27, 14, 1:10 pm
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I do eat out a fair bit on my tod (business travel, usually solo, and I refuse to confine myself to the hotel for eating) and usually don't have much trouble, but you have to adjust your expectations to your destination (I know I'm never going to get speedy service in Copenhagen, for example).

So I always take a book/kindle with me. You're never alone with something decent to read. And yes, you often do feel like something quicker, which does drive you to lower end places, but you can get some particularly interesting food in a less polished environment this way, which I rather enjoy.
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Old Oct 27, 14, 1:20 pm
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Cool

Originally Posted by Showbizguru View Post
Funnily enough I'll often take a small pocket notebook with when I eat out - not just on my own - and it's amazing the difference in service when wait staff see you making notes.

Likewise photographing food as it arrives.
See...? Memory problems aren't ALL bad.

I dine alone very frequently when traveling, and rarely have any issues. If it appears they are dragging their feet on seating me simply approaching the podium or directly addressing the issue always takes care of it.
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Old Oct 27, 14, 1:47 pm
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The notebook thing is pretty good. I often check to see if the bar has a full menu and will sometimes just sit there if I'm not in the mood to sit around or need to get back to the hotel to do some work.

Otherwise, the solo thing hasn't been too bad. I observe that in places where I'm sitting alone waiting for staff to come by, the service is usually all-around a bit lax, not just for me because I'm by myself.

And yes, I do agree that dining solo is a good opportunity to build a rapport with the wait staff. I almost always ask for recommendations/favorites on the menu (food, beer, whatever), or ask "between this and this, what do you prefer." Usually gets good a good response, although I start to worry when they say they haven't really had anything on the menu for whatever reason (new, allergies, only like 1 thing, etc.).
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Old Oct 27, 14, 2:02 pm
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For me, the biggest issue I've encountered is in the seating process. The "wouldn't you rather sit at the bar" even though half the place is empty, the sticking the solo diner at the worst table in the restaurant, etc. I've started to take note and never return to places that do that - even if I'm eating with someone else.

I've rarely experienced an issue once I actually get seated (the few places it has happened are also on my never visit again list).
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Old Oct 27, 14, 3:15 pm
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Originally Posted by wrp96 View Post
For me, the biggest issue I've encountered is in the seating process. The "wouldn't you rather sit at the bar" even though half the place is empty, the sticking the solo diner at the worst table in the restaurant, etc. I've started to take note and never return to places that do that - even if I'm eating with someone else.

I've rarely experienced an issue once I actually get seated (the few places it has happened are also on my never visit again list).
I tend be the exact opposite. While there are times I might prefer to have a table to myself, I've found myself gravitating to bar seating when dining alone. It probably helps that many restaurants in the US are now nonsmoking so that doesn't interfere with dining.

Most restaurants serve at the bar off the regular menu instead of having a separate and less inviting bar menu, and some restaurants even have both bar and regular menus, which I've found occasionally to be a benefit. One of my favorite restaurants on the Outer Banks, Ocean Boulevard, does a bar menu that includes a roasted half chicken at $13 that is a slightly smaller portion (half of a smaller bird maybe?) than the roasted half chicken on the regular menu with different sides (and I actually prefer the bar sides)--plus, it's $9 cheaper than the regular menu.

I don't generally like TVs in restaurants when I'm accompanied, but dining alone, I prefer having something to distract me from my solo status. And while there's also the danger of getting a bad seatmate at the bar, I have had plenty of occasions where I got into a great conversation with someone sitting next to me or with the bartender, especially as you go up the food chain of restaurants. Lots of the bartenders in those establishments are experienced, have a life outside of drinking and partying, and are frequently pretty good sources of information about other good restaurants in the area or things I should see and experience outside of dining and drinking.

Perceptions about solo dining have changed over the years, too. When I was working in a job in the late 1970s that involved some travel, it was very unusual to dine alone. In 2014, it's still not the norm, but I don't believe that many restaurant personnel consider a diner eccentric for that reason. A server's reluctance to take a table with a solo diner because of the anticipation of a lower overall tip might explain some of the service issues discussed in this thread. Doesn't excuse them, but might explain them.
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Old Oct 27, 14, 4:13 pm
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Originally Posted by s0ssos View Post
Greetings: I can't think of the best way to greet someone, but I have been sitting for quite a while before until I motioned a waitress over. She thought I was waiting for someone else. It also is awkward when someone has to confirm "one" multiple times (after the question "how many"?).
I like it when I walk in and the host/hostess greets me with "Oh. Just one?"
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Old Oct 27, 14, 4:21 pm
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Funny and timely thread

I really noticed this effect on my latest Aus trip.. Several places "Is it just going to be you?" And often that correlates with a need to be very proactive about receiving service..

Found more so in business eating establishments which expect groups to be dining..
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