Reading in A Fine Restaurant . . .




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Reading in a fine restaurant . . .

is in good taste! Hard to believe? It's true. Contrary to popular belief, white table cloth restaurateurs aren't offended when a solo diner retrieves a book or magazine from a purse or briefcase.

How do we know? Over the years, we've posed this question to hundreds of restaurateurs across the country.

Restaurateurs are thrilled, of course, when guests luxuriate in both the cuisine and the ambiance. But above all, they want you to be comfortable. So pack along reading material whatever pleases you and enjoy!




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Your editor welcomes commentary on the topic of solo dining. Here's an e-mail from Jim McAlister and my response:

2/21/07
I suspect the restaurant managers nearly flipped when they read, and
you
offer, to "take a book to a restaurant. . . " That is a very poor
suggestion. Restaurants make their money by turnover at the tables,
not
running a library. People can read a few lines between order and
deliver,
but not linger and reading after the meal. Please.

Jim McAlister
Conroe, TX



Dear Jim McAlister,

Agreed restaurateurs are concerned about table turnover, especially those heading fast food establishments. Furthermore, all restaurateurs, from fast food to fine dining, are also concerned about "attracting" and "keeping" customers lots of customers.

That said, here are a few considerations for you to chew on:

Over ten years ago, I queried 100+ fine dining restaurateurs across the U.S. Their responses varied according to the question, with this one exception: "Are you offended when solo diners, read in your restaurant?" Their responses were unanimous in their support of a solo diner's comfort (and possibly, in their hopes for "future" business?): "Certainly not. If reading makes dining alone more enjoyable for them, great!" Several added they hoped that a first meal at their restaurant would prove so pleasant, on a subsequent occasion, solos' comfort level would allow them to close their books and revel in the total dining experience.

A prescient group, these restaurateurs foreshadowed today's crop. Increasingly mindful of the old adage: "Sooner or later, everyone faces the challenge of eating/dining alone," increasing numbers of restaurateurs are making plans to accommodate the solo dining market. The numbers of potential customers making up this multi-faceted pie are astounding. They include business and pleasure travelers, very-marrieds whose mates are out of town, singles, divorced and widowed (including the very desirable Baby Boomers. Did you know " . . .more boomers are single than any other cohort of forty to sixtysomethings"?
Newsweek 2/20/06.) They want a slice of it!

"Accommodation," you'll be pleased to know, can be a win-win proposition attracting customers and pumping up a restaurateur's bottom line. Counter/bars overlooking exhibition kitchens are an excellent example and a current consideration for restaurant designers contemplating a new restaurant or remodel project. They help solve the overflow problem, are loved by couples and solos alike. And, you can read when seated at one, by golly, if you can manage to ignore the engaging entertainment ongoing before you.


Savvy solo dining,
Marya

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