Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: MissBrit on March 11, 2013, 12:13:03 PM

Title: Dining Alone
Post by: MissBrit on March 11, 2013, 12:13:03 PM
A new restaurant opened in my town this week that is an upscale 50's style diner. I went online to a popular restaurant review website out of curiosity to see what people were saying about it and one review caught my attention. The reviewer had noticed that a woman who was hearing impaired and dining alone was being "forced" (the reviewers punctuation and word, not mine) to sit at the bar when she had requested a table and reviewer thought that this was poor customer service.  I mentioned this to a friend because it seemed rather rude to me too but my friend said people dining alone should always sit at the bar and that is what it is there for.  I personally think it completely depends on the circumstances (how busy the restaurant is, tables available, medical issues, etc). What say you, e hellions? Was this rude?
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: MariaE on March 11, 2013, 12:17:08 PM
I agree with you. I regularly eat out alone, and have only been seated at the bar if it's busy.

What was your friend's reasoning for this "rule"?
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Twik on March 11, 2013, 12:17:45 PM
I often dine alone. If I were "forced" to sit at the bar, I would never patronize that restaurant again. It is one thing to say, "There are no tables open right now - would you like to eat at the bar, or shall I put you down to wait for a table?" If it gets me eating quicker, I'm all for it. However, to say, "It doesn't matter what tables are free - you're single, and you're not taking up one of our precious tables," is extremely rude service.

The bar is for people to drink. While you may get food there in many restaurants, that is a secondary function. If I'm taking up a bar seat and drinking soft drinks with my meal, that also is a loss to the restaurant.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Wulfie on March 11, 2013, 12:17:59 PM
Yes, it is rude.  I sometimes dine alone and do not like the chairs at most bars/counters. I am short and having to perch on a chair where my feet don't touch the floor is really uncomfortable. I would walk out if that was the rule/only place I could sit.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: ACBNYC on March 11, 2013, 12:19:24 PM
I think it's rude. Bars aren't for solo diners--they're for people who want to sit at the bar. Bar stools are usually uncomfortable for me; if I'm dining alone, which I do frequently, I prefer a table.

I don't see one person taking a two-top any differently than three people taking a four-top, if the restaurant's point was not wanting to have empty seats.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: WillyNilly on March 11, 2013, 12:20:41 PM
I think it does depend on how busy the restaurant is (and if sitting at the bar is physically possible - a person in a wheel chair for example might not physically be able to sit at the bar). Tables are generally considered "2 tops" or "4 tops" etc meaning they can seat 2, or 4, or how ever many people. Having empty seats in a super busy restaurant is not cost effective, so parties should be seated at the smallest appropriate table size to maximize space.

But of course the bar is not always feasible. I'm not sure what being hearing impaired has to do with the story, but perhaps something to do with how the server approaches and communicates with the customer is better at a table then at the bar, hence the customer insisting due to their disability they needed a table.

Ultimately though a restaurant can't "force" a customer to sit anywhere, as the customer can always decide to simply leave. I do think its fine for restaurants to have policies on how small a party can be at a table during busy times though - their business, their rules.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Twik on March 11, 2013, 12:21:51 PM
I should mention that, while I have never had a problem with being hit on, some women may feel that being alone at the bar makes them a target for men who are, to use an old phrase, "wolves". Not to mention the awkwardness of purses, etc.

It is unfortunate that many restaurants and servers see single people (particularly women on their own) as second-class diners.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Twik on March 11, 2013, 12:23:37 PM
I'm not sure what being hearing impaired has to do with the story, but perhaps something to do with how the server approaches and communicates with the customer is better at a table then at the bar, hence the customer insisting due to their disability they needed a table.

The bar area tends to be noisy, often with music playing, and people speaking very closely. I can see it would not be ideal for a person with a hearing impairment.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Surianne on March 11, 2013, 12:24:21 PM
How odd.  I usually offer (or sometimes even ask) to sit at the bar because I don't mind it, and chatting with the bartender/other patrons can be fun.  But if I were required to just because I was single (and there were free tables) I'd be pretty annoyed and insulted.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: ACBNYC on March 11, 2013, 12:25:29 PM
I should mention that, while I have never had a problem with being hit on, some women may feel that being alone at the bar makes them a target for men who are, to use an old phrase, "wolves". Not to mention the awkwardness of purses, etc.

It is unfortunate that many restaurants and servers see single people (particularly women on their own) as second-class diners.

I moved into a new apartment years ago and the first night took myself out to a pizza place with a book as company. The server came up to me and said..."what, did your boyfriend break up with you?"

I've rarely been that insulted, but at the time I had no spine so I didn't say or do anything. To boot, he couldn't have known, but I was in my new apartment after separating from ex-DH.  >:(
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: MariaE on March 11, 2013, 12:26:07 PM
How odd.  I usually offer (or sometimes even ask) to sit at the bar because I don't mind it, and chatting with the bartender/other patrons can be fun.  But if I were required to just because I was single (and there were free tables) I'd be pretty annoyed and insulted.

Agreed. Besides, a single person sitting at a 2 top is no more "wasting space" than 3 people sitting at a 4 top. ... Unless the odd one out there would be required to sit at the bar too?
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: WillyNilly on March 11, 2013, 12:30:35 PM
OP can you clarify something for me?

I read the op and thought of the bar as more like a diner counter since its a "50's style diner", not an actual 'stand around and drink alcohol' bar, but more like the counter area in a diner, where people go primarily to eat. Sure the coffee station, and yes the alcohol are behind it, but its primarily for eating. Clearly other posters are reading it as more of an alcohol centric bar rather then an eating counter.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Sharnita on March 11, 2013, 12:32:21 PM
Actually, I don't think it matters what kind of bar it is, neither is de facto seating for singles.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: WillyNilly on March 11, 2013, 12:38:12 PM
Actually, I don't think it matters what kind of bar it is, neither is de facto seating for singles.

Well I think it makes a difference for example in response to Twiks answers. A diner counter is no louder then a dining table, as they are usually right next to each other, without so much as partition between them. Also a diner counter is not the kind of place men are hovering look to pick up women - people are just sitting there eating.

Either way is a physically different experience, but the social and atmosphere differences aren't really there.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Amara on March 11, 2013, 12:41:48 PM
I always want a table, and I do not want the table next to the servers' station or the entrance to the kitchen. I've got sufficient spine to tell the hosts/hostesses that too. If need be, I am happy to wait. But if I was refused a table and directed to the bar I would spread my experience far and wide both online and in real life. Dining alone does not equal outcast.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Lorelei_Evil on March 11, 2013, 12:43:23 PM
Yes, it is rude.  I sometimes dine alone and do not like the chairs at most bars/counters. I am short and having to perch on a chair where my feet don't touch the floor is really uncomfortable. I would walk out if that was the rule/only place I could sit.

This.  If you don't want to "waste" a table on a single diner, I can take my business elsewhere.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: DavidH on March 11, 2013, 12:49:20 PM
I think in a diner, where the "bar" is food centric rather than alcohol centric, it is meant for single people so that they don't take up a table.  In my experience, the service there also tends to be somewhat quicker.  I don't think it is rude for a small party to sit at the bar in that type of situation, but for a large party it seems to make more sense to take a table rather than fill the bar.

Within reason, I think it is rude for a restaurant not to accommodate a person's seating preference.  If you as a single person want a table, that seems fine, but insisting on a large booth during a busy time, probably not as reasonable.  Similarly, for the restaurant to refuse to seat a single person at a 2-top table seems rude, but refusing to seat a single person at a table for 6 during a busy time seems fine to me. 

I am curious how the reviewer "noticed" a hearing impaired person being "forced" to sit at the bar.  It seems an odd thing to notice since you'd have to see or hear that they were hearing impaired and also know that they didn't want to sit at the bar, but that the restaurant offered them no other choice. 
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Sharnita on March 11, 2013, 12:53:53 PM
A dining counter is louder because there are more people and ot tends to be centrally located. The other people at the counter make it louder than a table to yourself.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: MrTango on March 11, 2013, 12:56:34 PM
Yes, it is rude.  I sometimes dine alone and do not like the chairs at most bars/counters. I am short and having to perch on a chair where my feet don't touch the floor is really uncomfortable. I would walk out if that was the rule/only place I could sit.

This.  If you don't want to "waste" a table on a single diner, I can take my business elsewhere.

This is true, but depending on the situation, it may be adventagious for a business to lose a single patron if it means seating a group faster.

Take the example of a solo diner waiting for a table for 5 minutes and a group of 3-4 waiting for one minute.  The restaurant has 2-top & 4-top tables, all of which are occupied until a 4-top table opens up.

If I'm the manager of the restaurant, I bring the group of 3-4 back to the 4-top first, even though they haven't been waiting as long.  The solo diner would end up waiting for a 2-top to open up.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: WillyNilly on March 11, 2013, 01:00:14 PM
A dining counter is louder because there are more people and ot tends to be centrally located. The other people at the counter make it louder than a table to yourself.

This is not universally true.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Sharnita on March 11, 2013, 01:01:33 PM
If I were one of the 3-4 group I'd indicate the other person was tjere first amd be really unimpressed with your stategy. It would simply indicate to me that next time the 4 of us were waiting we might be pushed aside to make room for a party of 6 that had arrived later.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: RebeccainGA on March 11, 2013, 01:04:19 PM
Yes, it is rude.  I sometimes dine alone and do not like the chairs at most bars/counters. I am short and having to perch on a chair where my feet don't touch the floor is really uncomfortable. I would walk out if that was the rule/only place I could sit.

This.  If you don't want to "waste" a table on a single diner, I can take my business elsewhere.

POD. I used to eat out a lot alone when I was single, and again when DP was in the hospital. If a restaurant treated me as if I was an annoyance and tried to sit me at an awful table or at the bar/counter just because I was single, I'd leave - and did. However, if they treated me well, at least as well as they'd treat any table, then I tipped WELL. I've been known to tip 35% or more if the service was exceptional when I was out on my own. Singletons don't deserve to be shunted to a less desirable place just because they are alone.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: MrTango on March 11, 2013, 01:06:11 PM
If I were one of the 3-4 group I'd indicate the other person was tjere first amd be really unimpressed with your stategy. It would simply indicate to me that next time the 4 of us were waiting we might be pushed aside to make room for a party of 6 that had arrived later.

And yet restaurants do this quite frequently.

When a table opens up, it doesn't necessarily go to the next person/group waiting in line, but to the next group/person of an appropriate size for that table.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Twik on March 11, 2013, 01:08:42 PM
A dining counter is louder because there are more people and ot tends to be centrally located. The other people at the counter make it louder than a table to yourself.

This is not universally true.

Well, I must say that I've never encountered any that is *less* noisy than a table to yourself.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Twik on March 11, 2013, 01:11:30 PM
If I'm the manager of the restaurant, I bring the group of 3-4 back to the 4-top first, even though they haven't been waiting as long.  The solo diner would end up waiting for a 2-top to open up.

And you'd pretty well guarantee that I would never come back to your restaurant again.

While you may have gained a slight economic advantage in the short run, unless your restaurant is one that is constantly filled from the minute it opens to close, driving away one particular type of diner is likely to hurt in the long run.

Also consider that solo diners tend not to linger at their tables. That group of 3-4 that you gave preference to? They may still be there happily conversing without purchasing anything for the next 3 hours, while the singles sit down, eat and leave.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Lorelei_Evil on March 11, 2013, 01:12:02 PM
Yes, it is rude.  I sometimes dine alone and do not like the chairs at most bars/counters. I am short and having to perch on a chair where my feet don't touch the floor is really uncomfortable. I would walk out if that was the rule/only place I could sit.

This.  If you don't want to "waste" a table on a single diner, I can take my business elsewhere.

POD. I used to eat out a lot alone when I was single, and again when DP was in the hospital. If a restaurant treated me as if I was an annoyance and tried to sit me at an awful table or at the bar/counter just because I was single, I'd leave - and did. However, if they treated me well, at least as well as they'd treat any table, then I tipped WELL. I've been known to tip 35% or more if the service was exceptional when I was out on my own. Singletons don't deserve to be shunted to a less desirable place just because they are alone.

I've had to give up on a local place with great food just because they do this.  They made a big fuss of my needing to sit at the bar, then I got ignored.  Never got a glass of water let alone a menu after 20 minutes, so I left and went to a place down the block. 
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: TurtleDove on March 11, 2013, 01:14:37 PM
If I were one of the 3-4 group I'd indicate the other person was tjere first amd be really unimpressed with your stategy. It would simply indicate to me that next time the 4 of us were waiting we might be pushed aside to make room for a party of 6 that had arrived later.

I think this is pretty typical strategy.  It is not exactly a first come first served scenario when there are tables of varying sizes.  If I were a hostess I would certainly seat a party of four at a four-top rather than a single person, especially if the next table to open up is a 2-top, meaning the party of four has to continue to wait. 
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: snowdragon on March 11, 2013, 01:16:35 PM
If I were one of the 3-4 group I'd indicate the other person was tjere first amd be really unimpressed with your stategy. It would simply indicate to me that next time the 4 of us were waiting we might be pushed aside to make room for a party of 6 that had arrived later.

And yet restaurants do this quite frequently.

When a table opens up, it doesn't necessarily go to the next person/group waiting in line, but to the next group/person of an appropriate size for that table.

Because people put up with it, if the smaller group or singleton protest this treatment they can often get seated first....I've done it several times.

I tip well, I start someone where between 30 and 40 percent and go up or down from there,  if a place treats me like an imposition because I am single, then they don't need my money. Simple as that.  I am not less worthy of decent service because I am alone.


And if this were a chain place  I would be placing a review on Yelp and anywhere else I could as well as alerting corporate.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: ACBNYC on March 11, 2013, 01:17:38 PM
If I were one of the 3-4 group I'd indicate the other person was tjere first amd be really unimpressed with your stategy. It would simply indicate to me that next time the 4 of us were waiting we might be pushed aside to make room for a party of 6 that had arrived later.

I think this is pretty typical strategy.  It is not exactly a first come first served scenario when there are tables of varying sizes.  If I were a hostess I would certainly seat a party of four at a four-top rather than a single person, especially if the next table to open up is a 2-top, meaning the party of four has to continue to wait.

I think the same. As a solo diner, if the place were packed and a four-top opened, I wouldn't expect to be seated there, but I would expect to be seated at the first available two-top and not required to sit at the counter.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: WillyNilly on March 11, 2013, 01:19:24 PM
A dining counter is louder because there are more people and ot tends to be centrally located. The other people at the counter make it louder than a table to yourself.

This is not universally true.

Well, I must say that I've never encountered any that is *less* noisy than a table to yourself.

Oh that I agree with. But its not always louder or more central.

A diner I used to go to lunch at near my old job had a counter. I often sat there... because I was alone. It was an L shape with 3 seats down at the end (bottom of the L), with the last one being against the wall. that was probably the quietest, least intrusive seat in the whole diner. As a customer I wasn't in a bad spot - I faced the staff member behind the counter, and there was a booth behind this seat, so there was a waiter coming by regularly, but being on the end with a wall to one side afforded the seat a bit more space, and it was totally silent to the one side. The other seats at the counter weren't very noisy because human ears tend to pick up sounds in front of and to the side of us better those behind us, and sitting at the counter meant ones back was to the tables, with only people to the sides and one, maybe two staff members in front behind the counter. Whereas if one was at a table, there would be many tables in front of yours, and therefore plenty of background noise to contend with.

There are absolutely valid reasons to not want to sit at the bar/counter, I'm not saying there aren't. But its not always some sort of second class seating. For the same reasons its not desirable to sit all along side by side when in a group (its hard to hear one another), sitting at a counter when alone is sometimes more pleasant.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: MrTango on March 11, 2013, 01:21:01 PM
If I were one of the 3-4 group I'd indicate the other person was tjere first amd be really unimpressed with your stategy. It would simply indicate to me that next time the 4 of us were waiting we might be pushed aside to make room for a party of 6 that had arrived later.

I think this is pretty typical strategy.  It is not exactly a first come first served scenario when there are tables of varying sizes.  If I were a hostess I would certainly seat a party of four at a four-top rather than a single person, especially if the next table to open up is a 2-top, meaning the party of four has to continue to wait.

I think the same. As a solo diner, if the place were packed and a four-top opened, I wouldn't expect to be seated there, but I would expect to be seated at the first available two-top and not required to sit at the counter.

Exactly.  It's a matter of managing the flow of the restaurant and optimizing the utility of the tables that are there.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: DavidH on March 11, 2013, 01:21:23 PM
I'm puzzled by the different experiences here. 

Most if not all the restaurants I've been to match the party size to the table during busy times.  So if you are a group of 1 or 2, you wait for the next table for 2.  If you are 3 or 4, you wait for the
next table for 4, and so on up the line.  I've never seen it just first come-first served, so that a party of 1 or 2 might end up with a table for 6 when the restaurant is busy. 

Is seating based on time, with no regard to matching table to party size the norm elsewhere?

Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: TurtleDove on March 11, 2013, 01:22:42 PM
Because people put up with it, if the smaller group or singleton protest this treatment they can often get seated first....I've done it several times.

I tip well, I start someone where between 30 and 40 percent and go up or down from there,  if a place treats me like an imposition because I am single, then they don't need my money. Simple as that.  I am not less worthy of decent service because I am alone.


And if this were a chain place  I would be placing a review on Yelp and anywhere else I could as well as alerting corporate.
Hmmm, to me this comes across as SS.  I don't see it at all as treating single people as less worthy of decent service because they are alone.  Not at all.  I see it as the best way to accomodate everyone.  I think it also depends on the quality/style of restaurant.  I would certainly not have the same expectations of an chain sportsbar as I would of a premier steak house.  Generally, if I am expecting stellar top notch service, I make a reservation and go to a fancy restaurant.  Not that I don't get stellar top notch service at some less expensive places, but just the similar principle of complaining that your steak at chain sports bar is not the best.  Well, you ordered steak at a chain sports bar - of course it isn't the best because it isn't a steak house!
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Sharnita on March 11, 2013, 01:27:48 PM
2 people (or 1) would get a table that could sit 4 if they had beem waiting longer. The 1 person would not get a table for 12 bet then that might very well get broken down into 3 tables of 4.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: bloo on March 11, 2013, 01:57:26 PM
This comment is just referencing the odd logistics that host/hostesses have to work around when seating:

When I was living in NC, my BFF & I went to this microbrewery - www.barleystaproom.com

Awesome pizza and over 100 different beers on tap. We went on a busy Friday night and it was packed with a 45-60 minute wait. After waiting for 30 minutes or so, a hostess approached us (a 2-top) and asked if we'd mind sharing a table with a couple of gentlemen sitting at an 8-top! She explained they were getting death glares from those waiting for tables (no waiting room) and the rest of their party of six had not arrived.

We, being hungry and thirsty exclaimed, "Of course!" and eagerly and thankfully sat down to join them at the opposite end of the table they had. They thanked us for joining them to hopefully spare them any more 'thousand-yard stares' and then we just politely ignored each other. The rest of their party did not arrive until we were halfway done with our food. Their wives and kids were a little surprised but understood after a short explanation and then we went back to politely ignoring each other.

We left before they did, thanking them again, and never had any idea if they'd had a miscommunication over time or if the husbands just wanted to drink beer for hours while their wives shopped.

But hosts/hostesses have so many different variables to deal with when they're trying to accommodate everyone that comes into the restaurant. It may not seem fair to take someone waiting less time and seat them first, or to appear to discriminate against a lone diner or extra large party - but I genuinely believe it's because all those different variables are being taken into consideration. I've worked in diners and 3-star corporate types of restaurants as waitstaff and in bartending. Hard work but better than being a hostess. A lot of aggravation and special snowflakes for not a lot of money. Just minimum wage and possibly tip-out!

ETA: I was just perusing their site and it looks like they're down to only 43 types of beer on tap. It's been 12 years since I've been there. Still, 43 is a great selection!
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Hmmmmm on March 11, 2013, 01:58:46 PM

I am curious how the reviewer "noticed" a hearing impaired person being "forced" to sit at the bar.  It seems an odd thing to notice since you'd have to see or hear that they were hearing impaired and also know that they didn't want to sit at the bar, but that the restaurant offered them no other choice.

I wondered this too. Or if the person who wrote the review would have thought it was fine to insist a non-hearing impaired person must dine at the counter but a hearing impaired should be seated at a booth or table.

There is one diner in our city I'm aware of that has a sign on the door that states single diners will only be sat at the counter during breakfast and lunch rush hours.  It's their policy. I'm sure there are people who do not dine there because of that policy. But I don't think the policy is rude. My husband hates sitting at counters are bars to eat a meal so would never dine solo there.

I would only think the policy rude if it was not applied across the board.

I personally am ok with a restaurant doing table management based on party size.  There's a small asian restaurant frequent.  They have 2 6 top tables and about 14 4 tops (no 2 tops).  If I were in a party of 6 and waiting for a table, I'd be pretty irritated if I saw them seat a party of 4 or less at one of their 6 tops. And if I were in a party of 4, I'd be perfectly ok with a party of 6 that arrived after us being seated before us if a 6 top came available.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: LadyR on March 11, 2013, 03:32:11 PM
I've never seen it just be by wait time. As a larger group I often expect to wait a little longer for a table. If I'm in a group of 6 and there's a group of 2 and a small tabe opens up, I don't expect that table to be empty because my group won't fit there, even though we came first.

On the other hand, we recently went out to a lunch bar place and we had a group of 7, we were told it was a long wait and there were a few other people waiting, no idea for how long. However, 5 minutes after we arrived, a large table freed up. It was a long booth style meant to seat 6-10 and would hav been awkward to sit 2 smaller groups there, so even though we had been waiting the least amount of time, they seated us there. If I had been one of the smaller groups, this wouldn't have bothered me and I beleive they were seated within 5-10 minutes of us.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: TylerBelle on March 11, 2013, 03:40:00 PM
I'm on the fence with this. On one side, I can see the restaurant not wanting to give up a table where they can fit in multiple people to just one person, thus seating them at the counter / bar. And on the other, if the patron prefers a table, then should have one, even if they must wait.

I myself don't think I'd mind too much switching to the counter, interesting things to watch if the kitchen is rather open. A drawback though with me is having quite the short legs, and so getting up on one of the stools usually isn't the easiest thing.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: snowdragon on March 11, 2013, 03:51:03 PM
Because people put up with it, if the smaller group or singleton protest this treatment they can often get seated first....I've done it several times.

I tip well, I start someone where between 30 and 40 percent and go up or down from there,  if a place treats me like an imposition because I am single, then they don't need my money. Simple as that.  I am not less worthy of decent service because I am alone.


And if this were a chain place  I would be placing a review on Yelp and anywhere else I could as well as alerting corporate.
Hmmm, to me this comes across as SS. I don't see it at all as treating single people as less worthy of decent service because they are alone.  Not at all.  I see it as the best way to accomodate everyone.  I think it also depends on the quality/style of restaurant.  I would certainly not have the same expectations of an chain sportsbar as I would of a premier steak house.  Generally, if I am expecting stellar top notch service, I make a reservation and go to a fancy restaurant.  Not that I don't get stellar top notch service at some less expensive places, but just the similar principle of complaining that your steak at chain sports bar is not the best.  Well, you ordered steak at a chain sports bar - of course it isn't the best because it isn't a steak house!

   It's saying to the singles that "you can wait til it's convenient to me, because I perceive you as less likely to garner me that big tip/tab that I want."  Sorry, no, and if you treat me like that I can guarantee you that not only will your tip be significantly less but I will make my displeasure with your policy known. 
    I've seen singles expected to wait not because there were no two tops available - but because the restaurant pushed several two tops together to accommodate a larger group - while the singles who where there first, continued to wait til all of the larger groups were seated.  I've waited 45 minutes for a seat, have one come open, only to see a family group that came in 2 minutes before offered it first - even though it meant rearranging furniture.  Single dinners get shafted an awful lot - I find it SS on the part of the restaurant AND the party accepting preferential treatment.  Voting with my dollars and my feet is my right,  not shutting up about it is a great way to make sure that others don't get the same shoddy treatment. 
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: TurtleDove on March 11, 2013, 04:03:01 PM
Voting with my dollars and my feet is my right,  not shutting up about it is a great way to make sure that others don't get the same shoddy treatment.

You absolutely have the right to do this!  I was just stating my perspective that a restaurant managing the flow of patrons is not, in my opinion, treating single diners shoddily, and depending on the restaurant, they are not catering to single diners anyway so while they might not be pleased that you are unhappy with their practices, they are not likely to change them. 

For the record,  used to travel for business several times per month and would often dine out alone.  I never got the sense that I was being treated shoddily because I was alone.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: snowdragon on March 11, 2013, 04:12:09 PM
Voting with my dollars and my feet is my right,  not shutting up about it is a great way to make sure that others don't get the same shoddy treatment.

You absolutely have the right to do this!  I was just stating my perspective that a restaurant managing the flow of patrons is not, in my opinion, treating single diners shoddily, and depending on the restaurant, they are not catering to single diners anyway so while they might not be pleased that you are unhappy with their practices, they are not likely to change them. 

For the record,  used to travel for business several times per month and would often dine out alone. I never got the sense that I was being treated shoddily because I was alone.

  And other people feel differently.   That does not make them wrong ( or you) it's likely just a difference in how the restaurant approaches it.  There are a good many restaurants that I have been to that the difference in service for singles and groups is noticeable ( longer waits to order, no drink refills, not offering the dessert[or wine] menu, ect) .  If you haven't experienced it _ I want to know where you  are going because the ones I have been to have been blatant about it- and it starts at the door, with the way folks are seated. 
   
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: TurtleDove on March 11, 2013, 04:16:10 PM
If you haven't experienced it _ I want to know where you  are going because the ones I have been to have been blatant about it- and it starts at the door, with the way folks are seated. 
   

Generally it would be the hotel restaurants, which were pretty nice, or other nice restaurants in downtowns nationwide.  An expense account allowed me to really wine and dine myself :)  I can't think of a time I've dined alone at a sitdown restaurant when at home, although I certainly wouldn't be opposed to doing so, I just haven't. That sucks that you have been treated poorly - I never was!
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: CluelessBride on March 11, 2013, 04:17:09 PM
Because people put up with it, if the smaller group or singleton protest this treatment they can often get seated first....I've done it several times.

I tip well, I start someone where between 30 and 40 percent and go up or down from there,  if a place treats me like an imposition because I am single, then they don't need my money. Simple as that.  I am not less worthy of decent service because I am alone.


And if this were a chain place  I would be placing a review on Yelp and anywhere else I could as well as alerting corporate.
Hmmm, to me this comes across as SS. I don't see it at all as treating single people as less worthy of decent service because they are alone.  Not at all.  I see it as the best way to accomodate everyone.  I think it also depends on the quality/style of restaurant.  I would certainly not have the same expectations of an chain sportsbar as I would of a premier steak house.  Generally, if I am expecting stellar top notch service, I make a reservation and go to a fancy restaurant.  Not that I don't get stellar top notch service at some less expensive places, but just the similar principle of complaining that your steak at chain sports bar is not the best.  Well, you ordered steak at a chain sports bar - of course it isn't the best because it isn't a steak house!

   It's saying to the singles that "you can wait til it's convenient to me, because I perceive you as less likely to garner me that big tip/tab that I want."  Sorry, no, and if you treat me like that I can guarantee you that not only will your tip be significantly less but I will make my displeasure with your policy known. 
    I've seen singles expected to wait not because there were no two tops available - but because the restaurant pushed several two tops together to accommodate a larger group - while the singles who where there first, continued to wait til all of the larger groups were seated.  I've waited 45 minutes for a seat, have one come open, only to see a family group that came in 2 minutes before offered it first - even though it meant rearranging furniture.  Single dinners get shafted an awful lot - I find it SS on the part of the restaurant AND the party accepting preferential treatment.  Voting with my dollars and my feet is my right,  not shutting up about it is a great way to make sure that others don't get the same shoddy treatment.

In general, I look at it more like when you put in your name, you are on a list for a 2-top (1-2 people) or a 4-top (3-4 people) not just any table. Otherwise everyone ends up waiting longer in the end. And large groups often have a reservation, which means they were there "first" even if they weren't in the restaurant. And sometimes its about knowing you have a large group and a bunch of tables near each other that could be pushed together and scattered individual tables that will open up soon.  Since you can't push the scattered tables together, it minimizes the overall wait time to seat the large group. It also frees up more bar/waiting area space for other people waiting.  I have often witnessed odd seating choices, but a few minutes of assessing the situation usually allows me to come up with an efficiency/logistical explanation. So in *general* I support this policy in restaurants - even if it means sometimes I'm the one waiting longer.

However, it does sound like in your case single diners are receiving shoddy treatment. And voting with your feet is absolutely your right (ans a smart thing to do!).* Writing to corporate is also your right. Complaining quietly and politely is also your right. Making a scene to get seated first would be rude, and so I hope that's not what you mean by "not shutting up about it is a great way to make sure that others don't get the same shoddy treatment."

*It's worth noting that policies that discourage a (non-protected) group from patronizing a business are also within their right and are basically the business side of voting with their feet. It may or may not pay off.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: miranova on March 11, 2013, 04:20:02 PM
I have eaten lunch alone with a book dozens of times in my life.  I have never been asked to sit at the bar.  I've been asked if I would LIKE to sit at the bar(as an option) but it's always been phrased as "would you prefer to sit at the bar or at a table?"  I have never even felt the slightest bit of pressure to choose "bar" and until this thread it never occurred to me that maybe they wanted me at the bar.  Then again, I simply don't feel that I'm "depriving" the restaurant of a single dime.  I'm there to spend money!  If I'm seated at a two top, that is no different than a group of 3 seated at a 4 top, which the restaurant will happily do all day long.  If I "take" a table that the couple behind me could have used, the only thing that will happen is that the couple may have to wait a bit longer for their table.  To which I say..... so?  I was there too, I waited for my table.  The only way it would actually cost the restaurant a DIME for me to have a two top is if the couple behind me gets annoyed and leaves.  Otherwise, they are actually ahead because they are getting revenue from the 3 of us, and if they hadn't been willing to seat me at a table, I would have left and they'd only receive revenue from 2 people (the couple behind me).  And that is assuming that the couple behind me were both planning to order a full meal with appetizer and a glass of wine, as I often did when dining alone with a book.

Really, the only way the restaurant could ever lose money by being willing to seat single diners at tables is if people in line get impatient enough to leave.  And really, if your restaurant is so busy that you have people lined up at the door, you are doing fine in the revenue department, unless people are staying for hours and ordering nothing, which is a completely seperate topic having nothing to do with single diners.

Edited to add:  I do get a little annoyed at the attitude that every party  MUST be a maximum money maker or they are rude.  The whole point of dining out is to order what you like, and we won't all like the same things.  Not every table is going to be full of people who all want alcoholic drinks, apps, entrees, and desserts, eats as fast as they can allowing you to turn over the table as quickly as possible.  I can't get behind the idea that it is in any way rude not to offer the restaurant a maximum revenue table every time you walk in the door.  Some tables are bigger money makers than others, that's part of the deal.  My husband and I usually have a glass of wine when we are out but we recently took a few weeks off drinking. We went out to a nice dinner but only ordered iced teas.  The waitress actually made a comment about how we "weren't going to have too much fun tonight huh?" since we didn't order alcohol.  I found it highly rude of her to even comment.  When did restaurants/servers get the idea that they are entitled to a high ticket at every single table?    The very idea that it might be considered rude for a single person to eat at a table because they don't spend as much as a two person table is not something I can ever get behind.  Etiquette does not dictate that I insure that the restaurant receives as much revenue as possible.  That might be their policy and their business model, but is not really the same thing as etiquette.  If that's their policy they can have it, and I will stay away when I'm alone and even when I'm not.  But I'm not rude for wanting a table at a restaurant that offers that option.  Even IF they will make less money on me than on a couple.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Sophia on March 11, 2013, 04:38:47 PM
I wouldn't have a problem with the example of the posted sign saying singles had to sit at the bar.  But, the second class treatment in the OP upsets me.  I'd probably call during say 3pm when the Manager was likely to be there, and not busy.  I'd say that I had been interested in trying the diner, but not any more thanks to the review. 

As a former frequent business traveler, I have eaten solo a lot.  The only time I had trouble was when I was actually meeting my boyfriend.  We'd planned on meeting at X time (very early end of dinnertime) on a weekday.  I was in college and I had been out running errands beforehand and I was done early.  At one point I realized I could drive for 10 minutes, spend 10 minutes at home, then drive 10 minutes back.  Or I could take a book in and wait.  I told the person at the front desk (probably a manager) that I was here ridiculuously early to meet my bf for dinner.  Could I have a table and a drink or water and wait for him?  i.e.  I didn't need actual service until bf got there. 
The waiter was horrible and patronizing.  As if I were making up the boyfriend, and won't I really just rather order now?
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: AreaWoman on March 11, 2013, 05:08:19 PM
I've also eaten alone while on business travl a fair amount.  I would not mind eating at the bar if it were not too crowded, but if I was told I had to eat at the bar and there was a huge happy hour crowd, I would definitely leave.

While I don't think I've had occasion to go there while by myself, one of our local places promises that, if you are a solo diner, they will never ask you, "Just one?"  I also have seen more and more solo diners going to places that have communal tables, which seem to be set up for those who both want to eat solo but still be sociable without the whole bar scene. 
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: zyrs on March 11, 2013, 05:17:37 PM
I used to dine alone at restaurants a lot.  It depended on the restaurant if I felt like a second class citizen or not.  And if I was treated like a second class citizen, I just didn't go back.

Not going back carried over to when I went out on dates or was going out to eat with friends.  I live in an area with a lot of restaurants though, so there is always somewhere else to go that has the same food type, if not exactly the same dishes.

Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: LadyDyani on March 11, 2013, 05:49:25 PM
I used to frequent a 50's style diner back in my hometown.  They had four booths and a counter/bar with six stools.  If there only one or two of the booths in use, I would use a booth.  If four or five of them were in use, I'd use the bar.  I'm there to eat, maybe read a bit, I don't see why I would need a booth.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: LifeOnPluto on March 11, 2013, 09:16:46 PM
In the set-up described (a counter that's used primarily for eating) I don't think it was rude for the diner to seat singles at the counter, especially if the rest of the place was busy. But in a regular bar, nope.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: blarg314 on March 11, 2013, 10:07:44 PM

By the logic in the OP, if you have three people coming in for a dinner, and tables are arranged in groups of two and four, they should either all be seated at the bar, or two get a table, and the third goes to the bar. You don't want to be wasting a seat that a group of four could use better, after all. 

I don't mind being asked "Do you want to sit at the bar?  It will be a shorter wait." I've been asked that as a couple as well, when a restaurant was busy.  But I don't like eating a meal at a bar - it's less comfortable, and harder to eat neatly, it usually means I can't read a book, which I like to do when eating out by myself.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Library Dragon on March 11, 2013, 10:21:07 PM
I often dine solo when traveling for business.  I like classical French.

I used to go to WDC frequently.  There was a place near my hotel on DuPont Circle. The first time I went the waitress try for hard to get me to sit at the bar.  I insisted on a table.  My 2 top for 1 bill was larger with cocktail, wine, ap, entree, and dessert than the 4 top ordering moules and frittes to share and 4 beers. They were there the same amount of time. I was back the next week and the place was half empty.  The same waitress tried to get me to sit at the bar.  I went to an Italian place down the street instead. (I didn't expect her to remember me specifically, but think twice about shuffling the single diner to the bar.)

Contrast that with the French bistro on restaurant row in Manhattan.  I would go once every four months.  The only time I was offered a place at the bar was went it was fully packed.  I generally dislike eating at bars.  It's the wrong height, less space for my book, etc.  This turned out to be fun. The guys at the bar were all stage hands from different BWay shows.  I was back a few months later with DS2 when he was 10 yrs old.  They treated us well and never rushed us.  It is someplace I always recommend. 
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Bijou on March 11, 2013, 11:12:56 PM
A new restaurant opened in my town this week that is an upscale 50's style diner. I went online to a popular restaurant review website out of curiosity to see what people were saying about it and one review caught my attention. The reviewer had noticed that a woman who was hearing impaired and dining alone was being "forced" (the reviewers punctuation and word, not mine) to sit at the bar when she had requested a table and reviewer thought that this was poor customer service.  I mentioned this to a friend because it seemed rather rude to me too but my friend said people dining alone should always sit at the bar and that is what it is there for.  I personally think it completely depends on the circumstances (how busy the restaurant is, tables available, medical issues, etc). What say you, e hellions? Was this rude?
My opinion:  If i am dining, I am a customer.  If I want a table, I get a table when one is available.  If they try to put me at the bar or the counter and I don't want to sit there, I will wait for a table or go somewhere else.  .  No restaurant is the only game in town as far as I am concerned. 
On the other hand, if I have my laptop, a book, a notebook, a sketchbook a game or a deck of cards with me and I'm going to order a cup of coffee and nurse it fort 4 hours so I can keep a table, while other customers stand around waiting for a table the owner has the right to move me to the counter.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: medowynd on March 11, 2013, 11:32:06 PM
I visited an Italian restaurant in Seattle years ago, at 8:00 on a weeknight.  I asked for a table and the host insisted that I had to sit at the bar.  I pointed out the dozen empty tables and the host said that it was their policy that single diners had to sit at the bar.  When I dine out by myself I prefer the company of a book, not the light and noise of bar seating.  I walked out and gave this restaurant poor reviews to many of my traveling coworkers and friends.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: delabela on March 12, 2013, 12:12:46 AM
I used to eat out a lot - alone, groups, one other person.  I never minded being asked to sit at the bar if I was alone - I usually had a book or the newspaper with me, and it didn't really matter.  Met a couple nice bartenders that way.

But, I don't recall that I was ever told I had to sit at the bar.  I think that's what sets it up for a less than pleasant experience. 
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Softly Spoken on March 12, 2013, 03:06:47 AM
Well firstly I have to say that as a short, hearing impaired person whose meds do not allow her to drink - I absolutely hate sitting at the bar. ::)

If that is the only seating available I would rather wait for a table or booth.

I have never encountered an establishment that had a policy of "you sit at the bar or you don't sit." I think there is too little info about the scenario to make an accurate etiquette judgement. How was the patron "forced"? The only thing that would logically suggest to me would be if a table with two or more seats were open and the staff refused to sit the patron there because they were by themselves and the restaurant wanted to leave the table available for multiple customers. I would vote for serving the customers you have in front of you over the potential ones you hope will materialize but hey, not my restaurant.  :P

I think refusing a customer's reasonable request without a good reason is rude (or at the very least uncharitable), but unfortunately it is also often the prerogative of the business in question.

If the bar was the only option than the patron could have asked to wait or left. If it was the option being pushed over other available seating and the staff refused access...well what are the patron's options? Make a scene? Suck it up? Leave?

So yeah I don't know how the "forcing" is possible, but (hypothetical)employee pushiness and ignoring/overriding a customers preferences is pretty rude.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: MariaE on March 12, 2013, 05:20:23 AM
I'm puzzled by the different experiences here. 

Most if not all the restaurants I've been to match the party size to the table during busy times.  So if you are a group of 1 or 2, you wait for the next table for 2.  If you are 3 or 4, you wait for the
next table for 4, and so on up the line.  I've never seen it just first come-first served, so that a party of 1 or 2 might end up with a table for 6 when the restaurant is busy. 

Is seating based on time, with no regard to matching table to party size the norm elsewhere?

I agree with this. If I'm in a party of 2 and I see a 4-top opening up, I don't expect to be seated if there's a party of 3-4 waiting. Similarly, if I'm in a party of 3-4 and see a 6-top opening up, I don't expect to be seated there either.

... Within limits, of course. It's not a set rule as much as a balance between wait-time and groups of people waiting. In a really busy restaurant a friend and I have been asked if we would mind sharing a 6-top with another couple. (Of course not - it allowed us to be seated sooner :D ;) )

That said, I very rarely go out to eat without making a reservation first - even if we're just two people (if I'm alone I take my chances). I don't much like the waiting game.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: rose red on March 12, 2013, 08:49:32 AM
I visited an Italian restaurant in Seattle years ago, at 8:00 on a weeknight.  I asked for a table and the host insisted that I had to sit at the bar.  I pointed out the dozen empty tables and the host said that it was their policy that single diners had to sit at the bar.  When I dine out by myself I prefer the company of a book, not the light and noise of bar seating.  I walked out and gave this restaurant poor reviews to many of my traveling coworkers and friends.

Something similar happened to me once.  The place had many empty tables and I politely requested one, but the hostess insisted I sit at one of those long tables where customers are right next to each other.  I do not go to restaurants to sit right next to strangers.  I walked out.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Calistoga on March 12, 2013, 08:54:54 AM
I've never been anywhere where the bar was considered mandatory seating, even if the place was crowded- they always ask if the bar is OK if they can fit you there, but never just shove you there.

If it's a policy, it's a dumb one.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: kherbert05 on March 12, 2013, 09:22:30 AM
I've never been forced to sit at the bar as a single. I've been told I could get served faster by taking a seat at the bar. If "at the bar" means a two top in the "bar" area, I'll take it. I don't like sitting at the actual bar because I find it doesn't have enough room for my Ipad or Chromebook and I'm usually planning on reading while I eat.

I don't have a problem with the restaurant seating groups at the next appropriate sized table - but I do have a problem with situations described up thread where a smaller group was made to wait longer because tables appropriate to them were rearranged for a larger group.

I wish more restaurants took reservations for any sized group. Even if there was a small charge for the service I would prefer it.

Another gripe my family has run into is the "all members of the group must be present" to get on the wait list. They really want 6 kids (9,8,7,5,4,1) to be standing around the waiting area? That blows my mind. Even well behaved they are a pain (coming from someone who adores them) - and people tend to trip over them. But we have been told they won't put us on the list till they can see all of us - and that if any "leave" we will be struck off the list.

It is much better idea for a couple of the parents to take them for a walk or even geocaching if there is one near by until we are called. It isn't going to be a delay. The part of the party there calls us, sits down, orders our drinks and appetizers. We get back go straight to the table, and after the appetizers are served - then we order our entrees. (We never order our main course until the appetizers are served because we hate being rushed) We generally look at the menu before hand and know what we are going to order unless there are daily specials or something.

We have walked out of restaurants because of this policy and gone somewhere else. The servers missed out on a huge tip.

Every adult except me in our group has been a server at one point or another. We tip extremely well. It isn't strange for us to tip 40% or 50% for good service. This is especially true when we have a large group, large number of kids, or are by ourselves. I've actually had 2 different severs chase me into the parking lot with their tip - thinking I left my change. (In one case I screwed up my order because of my dyslexia and they fixed it an insisted on comping the mistake part. I tipped more than 50% that time - and filled out a card saying again it was all my mistake. I didn't want the poor waiter getting into trouble.) Also when I go by myself - I tend to go at off times just because it is more convient for me. That is probably a factor.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: MommyPenguin on March 12, 2013, 09:36:27 AM
Is it possible that the reason the reviewer mentions that the woman was hearing impaired was that the waiter had to speak very loudly to her, maybe repeat himself a few times, and that's what drew the reviewer's attention to the fact that she was being required to sit at the bar?
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Sharnita on March 12, 2013, 09:47:05 AM
That was my guess - the exchange was louder because the patron had difficulty hearing, so the reviewer was aware of what was happening.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Mikayla on March 12, 2013, 12:23:44 PM
I guess this is a minority view, but it's never struck me as odd if I'm alone and I'm told something like "during peak times, we seat single people at the bar".  I don't see this as rude; it's a business decision.  And I loathe eating at bars!  But if I'm there for the food, I'd do it.  I'd only feel second class if I was treated that way by whomever served me.

Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Sharnita on March 12, 2013, 12:48:31 PM
I would say more specifically that I am there to enjoy the food. That would mean sitting somewhere that didn't make me uncomfortable.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Veronica on March 12, 2013, 01:18:47 PM
Voting with my dollars and my feet is my right,  not shutting up about it is a great way to make sure that others don't get the same shoddy treatment.

You absolutely have the right to do this!  I was just stating my perspective that a restaurant managing the flow of patrons is not, in my opinion, treating single diners shoddily, and depending on the restaurant, they are not catering to single diners anyway so while they might not be pleased that you are unhappy with their practices, they are not likely to change them. 

For the record,  used to travel for business several times per month and would often dine out alone. I never got the sense that I was being treated shoddily because I was alone.

  And other people feel differently.   That does not make them wrong ( or you) it's likely just a difference in how the restaurant approaches it.  There are a good many restaurants that I have been to that the difference in service for singles and groups is noticeable ( longer waits to order, no drink refills, not offering the dessert[or wine] menu, ect) .  If you haven't experienced it _ I want to know where you  are going because the ones I have been to have been blatant about it- and it starts at the door, with the way folks are seated. 
   

I'm with TurtleDove on this.  I've had to travel a lot for business and would frequently eat lunch and dinner out alone.  I can't recall ever having an issue with waitstaff treating me badly because of my single status.  Could it be this is something you go in expecting to happen and therefore anything that happens you assume occurred because you are single?
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Sharnita on March 12, 2013, 01:23:14 PM
No, it couldn't. I always expect good/fair service and usually get it. Sometimes I don't because the waiter is having a bad day, because the kitchen is screwing up or because somenody really is bad at the job. And sometimes it is because I am alone.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: snowdragon on March 12, 2013, 01:49:43 PM
Voting with my dollars and my feet is my right,  not shutting up about it is a great way to make sure that others don't get the same shoddy treatment.

You absolutely have the right to do this!  I was just stating my perspective that a restaurant managing the flow of patrons is not, in my opinion, treating single diners shoddily, and depending on the restaurant, they are not catering to single diners anyway so while they might not be pleased that you are unhappy with their practices, they are not likely to change them. 

For the record,  used to travel for business several times per month and would often dine out alone. I never got the sense that I was being treated shoddily because I was alone.

  And other people feel differently.   That does not make them wrong ( or you) it's likely just a difference in how the restaurant approaches it.  There are a good many restaurants that I have been to that the difference in service for singles and groups is noticeable ( longer waits to order, no drink refills, not offering the dessert[or wine] menu, ect) .  If you haven't experienced it _ I want to know where you  are going because the ones I have been to have been blatant about it- and it starts at the door, with the way folks are seated. 
   

I'm with TurtleDove on this.  I've had to travel a lot for business and would frequently eat lunch and dinner out alone.  I can't recall ever having an issue with waitstaff treating me badly because of my single status.  Could it be this is something you go in expecting to happen and therefore anything that happens you assume occurred because you are single?

No, it couldn't. I always expect good/fair service and usually get it. Sometimes I don't because the waiter is having a bad day, because the kitchen is screwing up or because somenody really is bad at the job. And sometimes it is because I am alone.

What Sharnita said... If I go to a Restaurant, with a group after class and get great service, and the next day, after class go alone ( I hate cooking at midnight when I get home) and get treated crappily, it's not an unreasonable extrapolation to say it's because I am dining solo the second time. When the pattern repeats - there's no doubt.   If I walk in and get told I am not allowed to sit at a table because I am alone, it may be a business model, but it's still saying I don't desrve the same level of service/comfort because I am alone.  ( or a new one that happened last night if I am eating and I get told that I need to move because a larger group needs my table, what am I supposed to think then?) If I am passed over for tables appropriate to my party size so they can then push them together for a larger group, I am being told that my money is not worth as much or that I am valued less as a customer.
   I spend a LOT of time in restaurants, I am willing to give folks the benefit of the doubt - to a point but when it becomes a pattern or it's spelled out for me, that  doubt goes away.  Part of the resaon I spend so much time in restaurants is that I am scouting restaurants for my aunt's 99th birthday - if I don't like the way I get treated, the restaurant is crossed off the list. Simple as that, if you can't handle treating one person decently; you can't handle a larger group.  The problem with alienating people who dine solo as "a business model" is you never know if they are potential regular customers, looking for some place to take clients or looking for a place for milestone event - loose the one person and you loose the rest.  Along with them going around and telling everyone who asks that your places has bad service.
 
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: stargazer on March 12, 2013, 07:24:52 PM
Voting with my dollars and my feet is my right,  not shutting up about it is a great way to make sure that others don't get the same shoddy treatment.

You absolutely have the right to do this!  I was just stating my perspective that a restaurant managing the flow of patrons is not, in my opinion, treating single diners shoddily, and depending on the restaurant, they are not catering to single diners anyway so while they might not be pleased that you are unhappy with their practices, they are not likely to change them. 

For the record,  used to travel for business several times per month and would often dine out alone. I never got the sense that I was being treated shoddily because I was alone.

  And other people feel differently.   That does not make them wrong ( or you) it's likely just a difference in how the restaurant approaches it.  There are a good many restaurants that I have been to that the difference in service for singles and groups is noticeable ( longer waits to order, no drink refills, not offering the dessert[or wine] menu, ect) .  If you haven't experienced it _ I want to know where you  are going because the ones I have been to have been blatant about it- and it starts at the door, with the way folks are seated. 
   

I'm with TurtleDove on this.  I've had to travel a lot for business and would frequently eat lunch and dinner out alone.  I can't recall ever having an issue with waitstaff treating me badly because of my single status.  Could it be this is something you go in expecting to happen and therefore anything that happens you assume occurred because you are single?

No, it couldn't. I always expect good/fair service and usually get it. Sometimes I don't because the waiter is having a bad day, because the kitchen is screwing up or because somenody really is bad at the job. And sometimes it is because I am alone.

What Sharnita said... If I go to a Restaurant, with a group after class and get great service, and the next day, after class go alone ( I hate cooking at midnight when I get home) and get treated crappily, it's not an unreasonable extrapolation to say it's because I am dining solo the second time. When the pattern repeats - there's no doubt.   If I walk in and get told I am not allowed to sit at a table because I am alone, it may be a business model, but it's still saying I don't desrve the same level of service/comfort because I am alone.  ( or a new one that happened last night if I am eating and I get told that I need to move because a larger group needs my table, what am I supposed to think then?) If I am passed over for tables appropriate to my party size so they can then push them together for a larger group, I am being told that my money is not worth as much or that I am valued less as a customer.
   I spend a LOT of time in restaurants, I am willing to give folks the benefit of the doubt - to a point but when it becomes a pattern or it's spelled out for me, that  doubt goes away.  Part of the resaon I spend so much time in restaurants is that I am scouting restaurants for my aunt's 99th birthday - if I don't like the way I get treated, the restaurant is crossed off the list. Simple as that, if you can't handle treating one person decently; you can't handle a larger group.  The problem with alienating people who dine solo as "a business model" is you never know if they are potential regular customers, looking for some place to take clients or looking for a place for milestone event - loose the one person and you loose the rest.  Along with them going around and telling everyone who asks that your places has bad service.


I'm sorry, I am confused.  What kind of restaurants are you going to at midnight that are so packed that you cannot get a table?  I've dined as a single patron many times (at normal hours mind you) and never had an issue.   

Also, they told you to move when you have a full leg cast?  I've been ASKED to move, but never told, and it seems odd they would ask you when you're in a cast.  Did you move?
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: CluelessBride on March 12, 2013, 08:40:37 PM
<snip>

What Sharnita said... If I go to a Restaurant, with a group after class and get great service, and the next day, after class go alone ( I hate cooking at midnight when I get home) and get treated crappily, it's not an unreasonable extrapolation to say it's because I am dining solo the second time. When the pattern repeats - there's no doubt.   If I walk in and get told I am not allowed to sit at a table because I am alone, it may be a business model, but it's still saying I don't desrve the same level of service/comfort because I am alone.  ( or a new one that happened last night if I am eating and I get told that I need to move because a larger group needs my table, what am I supposed to think then?) If I am passed over for tables appropriate to my party size so they can then push them together for a larger group, I am being told that my money is not worth as much or that I am valued less as a customer.
   I spend a LOT of time in restaurants, I am willing to give folks the benefit of the doubt - to a point but when it becomes a pattern or it's spelled out for me, that  doubt goes away.  Part of the resaon I spend so much time in restaurants is that I am scouting restaurants for my aunt's 99th birthday - if I don't like the way I get treated, the restaurant is crossed off the list. Simple as that, if you can't handle treating one person decently; you can't handle a larger group.  The problem with alienating people who dine solo as "a business model" is you never know if they are potential regular customers, looking for some place to take clients or looking for a place for milestone event - loose the one person and you loose the rest.  Along with them going around and telling everyone who asks that your places has bad service.
 

For what it's worth, I've had the bolded happen to me when I was with a group of about 10. It was clear that it was an issue with table management/restaurant organization and not because they disliked our party. In our case they also kept us waiting nearly an hour before finally seating us (we had a reservation). And service was otherwise also lousy and slow. But I think declining to move is fine (we did).

I have inconsistent service all the time at restaurants. It's fine to decide not to go there because you didn't like the service (even if it was only once).  But having great service on day 1 when you are with a group and poor service on day 2 when you are alone proves absolutely nothing. Honestly, to me the link is so weak it doesn't even suggest anything. There are about a billion different additional variables that come into play (some servers are better than others, sometimes an individual server has an off day, sometimes there's a crazy crisis in the kitchen, maybe the incompetent manager is there one day, maybe there is a particularly belligerent party, time of day, day of the week etc). Now if you go to the same restaurant 20 times (half with a group and half alone), always at about the same time and same type of day and always with the same server but note far superior service when you are with a group, then maybe you are on to something.


 
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: snowdragon on March 12, 2013, 09:04:54 PM
Voting with my dollars and my feet is my right,  not shutting up about it is a great way to make sure that others don't get the same shoddy treatment.

You absolutely have the right to do this!  I was just stating my perspective that a restaurant managing the flow of patrons is not, in my opinion, treating single diners shoddily, and depending on the restaurant, they are not catering to single diners anyway so while they might not be pleased that you are unhappy with their practices, they are not likely to change them. 

For the record,  used to travel for business several times per month and would often dine out alone. I never got the sense that I was being treated shoddily because I was alone.

  And other people feel differently.   That does not make them wrong ( or you) it's likely just a difference in how the restaurant approaches it.  There are a good many restaurants that I have been to that the difference in service for singles and groups is noticeable ( longer waits to order, no drink refills, not offering the dessert[or wine] menu, ect) .  If you haven't experienced it _ I want to know where you  are going because the ones I have been to have been blatant about it- and it starts at the door, with the way folks are seated. 
   

I'm with TurtleDove on this.  I've had to travel a lot for business and would frequently eat lunch and dinner out alone.  I can't recall ever having an issue with waitstaff treating me badly because of my single status.  Could it be this is something you go in expecting to happen and therefore anything that happens you assume occurred because you are single?

No, it couldn't. I always expect good/fair service and usually get it. Sometimes I don't because the waiter is having a bad day, because the kitchen is screwing up or because somenody really is bad at the job. And sometimes it is because I am alone.

What Sharnita said... If I go to a Restaurant, with a group after class and get great service, and the next day, after class go alone ( I hate cooking at midnight when I get home) and get treated crappily, it's not an unreasonable extrapolation to say it's because I am dining solo the second time. When the pattern repeats - there's no doubt.   If I walk in and get told I am not allowed to sit at a table because I am alone, it may be a business model, but it's still saying I don't desrve the same level of service/comfort because I am alone.  ( or a new one that happened last night if I am eating and I get told that I need to move because a larger group needs my table, what am I supposed to think then?) If I am passed over for tables appropriate to my party size so they can then push them together for a larger group, I am being told that my money is not worth as much or that I am valued less as a customer.
   I spend a LOT of time in restaurants, I am willing to give folks the benefit of the doubt - to a point but when it becomes a pattern or it's spelled out for me, that  doubt goes away.  Part of the resaon I spend so much time in restaurants is that I am scouting restaurants for my aunt's 99th birthday - if I don't like the way I get treated, the restaurant is crossed off the list. Simple as that, if you can't handle treating one person decently; you can't handle a larger group.  The problem with alienating people who dine solo as "a business model" is you never know if they are potential regular customers, looking for some place to take clients or looking for a place for milestone event - loose the one person and you loose the rest.  Along with them going around and telling everyone who asks that your places has bad service.


I'm sorry, I am confused.  What kind of restaurants are you going to at midnight that are so packed that you cannot get a table?  I've dined as a single patron many times (at normal hours mind you) and never had an issue.   

Also, they told you to move when you have a full leg cast?  I've been ASKED to move, but never told, and it seems odd they would ask you when you're in a cast.  Did you move?

  Here places close late... any place with a bar is likely to be closing when the bar does - at 4am.  And this particular place is close to 3 universities, so packed til closing is not unusual. As for moving, I had the rest of my food boxed up, put it in a bag to carry it  and left.  I won't be back.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: LadyR on March 12, 2013, 09:19:31 PM

I'm sorry, I am confused.  What kind of restaurants are you going to at midnight that are so packed that you cannot get a table?  I've dined as a single patron many times (at normal hours mind you) and never had an issue.   

There's an all night poutine place here that DH and I used to frequent (still go occasionally, but we no longer live nearby) and we'd go at midnight after he got off work and it was always packed because of the bar crowd.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: kherbert05 on March 12, 2013, 09:45:17 PM
I had the we have to move you to make room for a larger party happen to me once - but boy was it handled right
1. The manager came over to me
2. He explained that they already had a babyshower in one room and a birthday party in the other - and had to seat this party (who came in without reservation because normally the place is very slow on a Sunday afternoon) in the room I was in because of fire code.
3. They didn't really need my table but I was going to be crowded by the group that was largely teenage boys (a baseball team from the uniforms)
4. Would I be more comfortable moving to the booth opposite
5. He insisted on comping my whole meal
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: delabela on March 12, 2013, 10:33:20 PM
I had the we have to move you to make room for a larger party happen to me once - but boy was it handled right
1. The manager came over to me
2. He explained that they already had a babyshower in one room and a birthday party in the other - and had to seat this party (who came in without reservation because normally the place is very slow on a Sunday afternoon) in the room I was in because of fire code.
3. They didn't really need my table but I was going to be crowded by the group that was largely teenage boys (a baseball team from the uniforms)
4. Would I be more comfortable moving to the booth opposite
5. He insisted on comping my whole meal

That's a heck of a manager!  Good for him.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: miranova on March 12, 2013, 10:37:34 PM
I had the we have to move you to make room for a larger party happen to me once - but boy was it handled right
1. The manager came over to me
2. He explained that they already had a babyshower in one room and a birthday party in the other - and had to seat this party (who came in without reservation because normally the place is very slow on a Sunday afternoon) in the room I was in because of fire code.
3. They didn't really need my table but I was going to be crowded by the group that was largely teenage boys (a baseball team from the uniforms)
4. Would I be more comfortable moving to the booth opposite
5. He insisted on comping my whole meal

And THAT is the way to do it. 

That is the only way I can see that it would be ok to ask someone to move to make room for another party.  A combination of circumstances beyond their control and compensating you for the inconvenience.  I'd go back to that restaurant.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Hmmmmm on March 13, 2013, 05:00:15 AM
I had the we have to move you to make room for a larger party happen to me once - but boy was it handled right
1. The manager came over to me
2. He explained that they already had a babyshower in one room and a birthday party in the other - and had to seat this party (who came in without reservation because normally the place is very slow on a Sunday afternoon) in the room I was in because of fire code.
3. They didn't really need my table but I was going to be crowded by the group that was largely teenage boys (a baseball team from the uniforms)
4. Would I be more comfortable moving to the booth opposite
5. He insisted on comping my whole meal

That's a heck of a manager!  Good for him.

I agree. We were at a favorite pizza restaurant with a group of 7. They had put 2 four tops together for us. After we had received our drinks, the manager came and asked if we'd be willing to move to a different table because a party of 12 had come in and our area was the only one that allowed them to put 3 4 tops together. We were happy to oblige and he comped the appetizers we had ordered.

Done well, you've made to groups of customers happy. Done poorly and you've lost a customer.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Lady Snowdon on March 13, 2013, 06:45:31 AM
I've noticed that the posters who are saying that they've never experienced problems or different service when dining alone have mentioned being on business trips.  I think this makes a difference.  Hotel restaurants, or restaurants that cater to business people on trips, are likely to be more welcoming of single diners, because more of their client base consists of people who dine by themselves.  A restaurant that's not in that business doesn't necessarily think of single diners as being part of their desired clients. 

I had the experience of being treated differently due to being single just last night.  I went to a seafood chain restaurant (I love salmon, and being in the Midwest, a non chain fish restaurant can get pricey!).  I was told it would be 10-15 minutes.  30 minutes later, after at least three other parties who came after me were seated, I was led to a 4-top, so obviously they weren't waiting for the perfect 2-top to open up.  I could hear and see my server visiting all of her tables, except me.  I waited for at least five minutes for her to even come over to my table.  It then took her about 10 minutes to come back with my lemonade and take my order!  From what I could tell, she had about four/five other tables, and probably spent two to three times longer at those tables than she did with me.  At the end of my meal, she tried to give me my bill without asking if I wanted dessert, which I did want, and was visibly irritated with me when I told her that.  Everyone else got a smile and a happy tone of voice when they gave orders.  I got a huuuuge sigh and "Well, I'll have to rerun this, you know".  It doesn't take much brainwork to conclude that I wasn't as welcome in her section because I was a single. 
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: MariaE on March 13, 2013, 08:17:50 AM
I've noticed that the posters who are saying that they've never experienced problems or different service when dining alone have mentioned being on business trips.  I think this makes a difference.  Hotel restaurants, or restaurants that cater to business people on trips, are likely to be more welcoming of single diners, because more of their client base consists of people who dine by themselves.  A restaurant that's not in that business doesn't necessarily think of single diners as being part of their desired clients. 

I dine alone all the time - DH has a lot of night shifts, and I like spoiling myself by eating out at restaurants he wouldn't join me at - so my experiences are based on ordinary restaurants around Copenhagen and are not based on business trips at all.

I've never experienced difference service when dining alone compared to when dining with others.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Sophia on March 13, 2013, 08:28:04 AM
That waitress was a moron.  I used to be a waitress in a nice restaurant.  People by themselves tipped above average, sometimes way above average.  They fell into two categories:

1) Business travelers.  They ate out often enough to appreciate and recognize really good service, particularly customized good service (they could be quirky).  Company was paying, so the tip wasn't coming out of their pocket. 

2) People who appreciated the food and the restaurant experience enough that they didn't care to limit themselves to when it was a social occasion.  Generally easy-going customers.  Any service more than minimum acceptable and equal to other tables upped the starting point to 25%
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: BabyMama on March 13, 2013, 12:54:48 PM
I haven't been back to Outback Steakhouse after they sat me at the bar because I was alone. I ended up taking up a huge amount of the bar with my salad and steak and baked potato all on different plates, and my drink and the bread. Not a great dining experience. (The bartender was great but I wasn't drinking so he probably wasn't enjoying having me there either.)
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Twik on March 15, 2013, 09:08:33 AM
I haven't been back to Outback Steakhouse after they sat me at the bar because I was alone. I ended up taking up a huge amount of the bar with my salad and steak and baked potato all on different plates, and my drink and the bread. Not a great dining experience. (The bartender was great but I wasn't drinking so he probably wasn't enjoying having me there either.)

At least the bar was better than my experience with an Outback Steakhouse a few years ago. I was deliberately put in an entire empty section, behind a pillar. I had to get up to find the server to:
- get a menu
- give my order
- remind them after 1/2 hour that I was, indeed, still waiting for my order, or at least some bread
- get my bill
- have the server take my bill.

When leaving, I mentioned to the hostess that I wasn't pleased at being, essentially, abandoned to my own devices. She raised a Spock-like eyebrow and sniffed, "Well of COURSE you weren't getting served. You were sitting in a closed section!" The implication appeared to be that I had bullied myself into that particular section, rather than meekly going where I was put.

The hostility I got that night was totally baffling, far beyond what I'd expect even for places hostile to the single female diner. I can only surmise that they had mistaken me for someone who had treated them very, very badly in the past (I had never been to that restaurant before, so there wasn't a likelihood I'd done something unintentionally rude myself).

Every other OBS I've ever eaten at has been extremely friendly, so it's no reflection on the chain.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: Sharnita on March 15, 2013, 10:47:27 AM
Yeah, I have found that my setvice os good there - including when I am alone. That being said, I know that if you have a manager at one restaurant who has a different approach/attitude, the story might be very different.
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: *inviteseller on March 16, 2013, 10:01:10 AM
I like to have a meal out by myself occasionally, and if I was seated at a bar, I would tell them I wanted a table.  If they could not get one or would not get me a table, I will go to a different restaurant.  To me, the bar is first a place to have a drink, then possibly to have some munchies or a sandwich and you are close to everyone else sitting there.  When I treat myself, it is to have a meal away from the kids  ::), and to just relax.  I don't want to sit and listen to all the chit chat and try to eat a full meal. 
Title: Re: Dining Alone
Post by: JacklynHyde on March 17, 2013, 04:30:44 PM
I dine out solo on occasion and only sit at the bar if it's incredibly crowded or if the bartender is someone I know.  Otherwise, I feel weird pulling out my usual book so I can read (and people watch over the cover) while I eat.