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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!
THE How-to Booklet of Solo Dining Tips & Strategies is now available.
Your editor welcomes commentary on the topic of solo dining. Here's an e-mail from Jim McAlister and my response:
I suspect the restaurant managers nearly flipped when they read, and
offer, to "take a book to a restaurant. . . " That is a very poor
suggestion. Restaurants make their money by turnover at the tables,
running a library. People can read a few lines between order and
but not linger and reading after the meal. Please.
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,
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