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.