Supporting the Solo Diner
I saw some data recently that suggests solo guests, both for dine-in and carry out, are a large emerging market segment. Why? There’s a lot of speculation based on some societal trends—many people find themselves divorced or waiting longer to get married, most of us are on the run between places to be and need a quick bite, we don’t mind dining alone since our faces are buried in our phones anyway, and as the world becomes more convenient around us we find that dining alone is just easier.
It’s the latter for me. I can always get a seat at the bar of the hottest new restaurant if I’m dining solo. And it seems, somehow, that I always get the best service when I’m alone. I can think of two occasions where I felt truly welcomed and cared for alone at the bar: While eating the handmade pasta at Union in Pasadena, California, and most recently with a large meatball like my grandma’s at Campisi's in Dallas (apparently I’m always eating spaghetti while dining solo… ).
And without solo diners like me, and Alexandra Hayes who penned the article Don’t Pity Me: I Actually Love Eating Alone for Thrive Global, that one seat open at the bar between a party of three and a party of five would go empty for as long as those crowds enjoyed each other’s company.
But it doesn’t boil down to offering us specials, because I’m not special when I’m dining out alone, I just want to be another member of the crowd. The only thing I do want to is to know that I’m cared for—my water is refilled, there was actual care in my server’s eyes when I was asked how I was doing, and real attention given in recommending something spectacular on the menu (even though we already knew it was going to be the spaghetti.) Watch my stuff when I go to the bathroom. Save my seat. Cover my drink.
These aren’t Michelin-starred restaurants. Anywhere that serves anything close to my grandmother’s cooking is unfortunately very unlikely to get a Michelin star anytime soon and that’s not just because they’re all in South Jersey or eastern Pennsylvania (and surprisingly Dallas, Texas). But I digress. The point is, this is Michelin-level service. Step up your service game for solo diners.