Dining Alone: The Joy of Solitude

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After being on the road for many years, the concept of dining alone is not something I ever quite got accustomed to. I always felt a bit self-conscious and nervous. Why? I asked myself. I am a perfectly confident person, but there is something about entering a restaurant alone that makes me feel uneasy.

One day, while having lunch with some friends, I noticed people who entered alone. As each guest  arrived at the hostess station, the hostess blurted out  ” Table for one!”  You could hear that screech across the room. I am positive that the hostess didn’t mean to do anything improper, but, I could tell each time, that the person felt embarrassed. So, it made me think. Why do diners need to feel embarrassed about dining alone? First of all, a decent percentage of the population is single, and so dining alone should not carry the stigma that it once  did.  We have to be able to change with the times, and make dining alone something that is part of our ever changing culture.  Here are 5 tips for making it work for you.

1.  Insist upon a good table, preferably one next to a window. Use the window location to do some serious people watching. Watching others as they pass by the restaurant gives your eyes something to focus on, and usually, you will be entertained by what you see.

2. Don’t allow anyone to seat you next to the kitchen or bathrooms. Even if the restaurant is crowded, stand your ground on this one. If you sit at a poor table, it will make you feel as though you are being punished for coming alone. This will ruin an otherwise pleasant dining experience.

3. Engage the hostess in conversation as you are being seated. This is a small trick that tends to work well. Say something nice and pleasant. Even give a compliment. You will be surprised at how it improves where you are seated.

4. Order all the food and drinks at once. Sometimes servers feel that 1-top tables are going to be a waste of their time. They have to stop at the table multiple times to get the order, and to bring the food and the check. Therefore, to ensure great service, tell the wait person you need a few minutes. When they return, order everything that you may want, including drinks and dessert at once. The server will love you for that, and you will get great service.

5. Have your smart phone ready.  It is now considered totally acceptable for people to go to restaurants and not speak to one another as they are texting, searching the web or even talking on the phone. Therefore, you can simply “join the crowd” and pull out your smart phone and read the paper, look at emails, or whatever you choose to do. Try to avoid talking on the phone though. I still find that to be gently annoying.

If you follow these tips, you might realize that eating alone isn’t as bad as one might think. With practice, you may start to enjoy the solitude.

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