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Author Topic: Dining Alone  (Read 27801 times)

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Re: Dining Alone
« Reply #45 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. 


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Re: Dining Alone
« Reply #46 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.


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Re: Dining Alone
« Reply #47 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.
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Re: Dining Alone
« Reply #48 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.


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Re: Dining Alone
« Reply #49 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.

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Re: Dining Alone
« Reply #50 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. 

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Re: Dining Alone
« Reply #51 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.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2013, 11:15:10 PM by Bijou »
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Re: Dining Alone
« Reply #52 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.


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Re: Dining Alone
« Reply #53 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. 

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Re: Dining Alone
« Reply #54 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.
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Re: Dining Alone
« Reply #55 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.
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Re: Dining Alone
« Reply #56 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.


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Re: Dining Alone
« Reply #57 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.


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Re: Dining Alone
« Reply #58 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.
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Re: Dining Alone
« Reply #59 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?
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