Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Solo Diners of the World Unite


Suzi Edwards
 Share

Recommended Posts

I don't tip any differently when dining solo than when dining in a group, there is no need to. Waitstaff works largely on tips, true, but they can't expect every table to be a perfect one.

I worked on pure commission based sales for several years, and while the customers that would load up on full entertainment systems, tons of accessories, and warranties were nice, it did not mean that customers coming in just to pick up a small bedroom TV or a 'special of the week' camcorder did not deserve just as much of my attention and effort, even though I would be making comparitively little from them. A very good friend of mine works at a car dealership and has noticed something similar: the salesmen that do a lot of repeat and mouth to mouth recommendation based business, are the ones who treat every customer like they are the only one in the world at that moment, no matter how big the paycheck is going to be from them. To me waitstaff should feel essentially the same way about every table they are waiting on. Whether it is a solo diner, two couples out celebrating a new promotion, or a fraternity of 30 guys out for dinner together.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually, the frat boys usually tip lousy -- at least, that's how I remember it from my waitressing days -- because they've been drunkenly knocking back the Kamikazes and Slow Comfortable Screws without paying attention to the tab, and when it arrives, it's a helluva lot higher than they expected, so they throw an extra 4 bucks on the table for the waitstaff, and go home to nurse their hangovers and lie to their wives about how much they spent.

While I tip well generally, and may tip particularly well if I'm alone, I'm sure as hell not going to tip "at least 50%." I mean, there's a difference between being gracious and apologizing for taking up space. I don't feel any obligation to do the latter.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll tip 50% at places I plan on returning to solo, not because I'm "apologizing for taking up space," but because they definitely will remember you and treat you very well from that point forward. A nice reciprocal relationship. Besides, I grew up poor but can afford to leave nice tips now, so why not reward people who are working very hard at an often thankless job?

“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

you know, it never struck me that the waiter would be getting so much a smaller tip from me than from a two.

They still get a lot more from a solo diner than they would if the table had stayed empty.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

you know, it never struck me that the waiter would be getting so much a smaller tip from me than from a two.

They still get a lot more from a solo diner than they would if the table had stayed empty.

That is the theory behind selling really cheap seats on airlines. Needless to say - the airline industry - over its entire lifetime - hasn't turned a profit. Robyn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

you know, it never struck me that the waiter would be getting so much a smaller tip from me than from a two.

They still get a lot more from a solo diner than they would if the table had stayed empty.

That is the theory behind selling really cheap seats on airlines. Needless to say - the airline industry - over its entire lifetime - hasn't turned a profit. Robyn

I don't think that's a meaningful analogy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I frequently dine alone at lunch and I'm occasionally treated poorly (on the first trip at least--if you tip well anyway and treat everyone with the utmost respect, they will remember you and give you stellar service on return trips).

I would never go back to a restaurant that gave me lousy service the first time. They don't deserve or want my money. Tip 50% until they remember you and start giving adequate service? No way.

Are there lots of solo diners who are worthless tippers and therefore all of us are stereotyped?

There are lots of servers who give neglectful service to women dining alone, because women dining alone "tip poorly". Of course they get lousy tips, and they are more convinced than ever that women dining alone deserve crummy service.

The worst service I ever got was none at all - the waiter decided it was too much trouble to take care of me, and I ended up walking out and skipping the meal, as there was nowhere else to eat in the area, and no time to go where there were other restaurants. :angry:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are lots of servers who give neglectful service to women dining alone, because women dining alone "tip poorly". Of course they get lousy tips, and they are more convinced than ever that women dining alone deserve crummy service.

Yes, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. The only way to break it is to either hope that society’s stereotypes will automatically change and a woman dining solo will be fawned over like two men in business suits or to just leave a good tip anyway. Maybe the fact that I’ve left a large tip will help change attitudes and when another woman comes into a restaurant after me alone, she’ll be offered a nicer table.

I'm not talking about leaving large tips and returning to places where you are ABUSED or the food is awful. Speaking with a manager is definitely appropriate for that.

“When I was dating and the wine list was presented to my male companion, I tried to ignore this unfortunate faux pas. But this practice still goes on…Closing note to all servers and sommeliers: please include women in wine selection. Okay?”--Alpana Singh, M.S.-"Alpana Pours"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a place for a first post..

Anyway its interesting to read the comments, I travle frequently for business in Australia and overseas and I often dine alone, generally I get treated pretty wekll but there are occasions where the experience is frustrating and down right bad - the common ones (which other people have mentioned) are being seated at bad tables, not being offered the wine list, being offered sympathy from the wait staff (this is really embarrassing and it can happen a lot) and restaurants that look down their nose at you when you have the temerity to read a book or work.

The funny thing is that in australia tipping isnt normal, nor is it expected as wait staff are paid wages, however i will always tip for good service and generally do so in cash if its an expense account meal and when I am travelling and eating its always expense account and my employer doesnt have a per diem so i can spend what i like on food - bad service is guaranteed to ensure i wont spend much and i wont tip - if i get lousy service from a restuarant then i wont have dessert there or coffee, i find somewhere else.

But i have to say its uncommon to get bad service just because you are dining alone, my experience is that bad service is bad service whether theres one or 20 of you.

oh and to the person who said its about money and that airlines dont make profits dont kid yourself - airlines ALWAYS make profits, regardless of what they build into their balance sheets in write downs, those that dont go broke fast. Likewise i could care what your food cost is and if youd rather seat a 4 top, im here and im your customer so you can serve me or i will find somewhere else.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

Marooned from my usual restaurant-mates, I am beginning a brief adventure in dining out by myself. I admit I'm a little apprehensive - what am I going to do, stare at the other people in the restaurant? - but I thought it would be fun. Is it bad etiquette to read a newspaper? Should I just sit and enjoy the food? Will the maitre d' shunt me off into a corner of the restaurant just because I'm by myself? I was just wondering if anybody out there likes to dine out on their own.

in love, as in gluttony, pleasure is a matter of the utmost precision.

(italo calvino)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I adore eating on my own, whether in a restaurant or at home. I DO sometimes take a book with me, for dessert and coffee time, and I always make sure to tip extremely well for good service, more so than when I dine with others. My reasoning is that I'm still taking the same time at the table as a larger party would. Of course, on road trips I sometimes eat alone in great casual road side places, and meet a lot of interesting people that way!

More Than Salt

Visit Our Cape Coop Blog

Cure Cutaneous Lymphoma

Join the DarkSide---------------------------> DarkSide Member #006-03-09-06

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please post about your adventures.

The couple of times I've gone to restaurants alone (training personnel at company sites in different cities) the hostess always threw me to the bar though I would have much preferred a table.

I chalked it up to tables being reserved for parties where it would be worth a waitstaff's effort...meaning, a tip left from a table of two or more always trumps a tip left from a single diner.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Marooned from my usual restaurant-mates, I am beginning a brief adventure in dining out by myself.  I admit I'm a little apprehensive - what am I going to do, stare at the other people in the restaurant? - but I thought it would be fun.  Is it bad etiquette to read a newspaper?  Should I just sit and enjoy the food?  Will the maitre d' shunt me off into a corner of the restaurant just because I'm by myself?  I was just wondering if anybody out there likes to dine out on their own.

I dine on my own pretty frequently, and I find that etiquette varies from restaurant to restaurant. I don't know that I'd feel comfortable bringing reading material into a very upscale place (Per Se or Jean Georges, for instance), but for a trip to a bistro or the italian restaurant around the corner, I think it's fine. As a general rule, I bring a book, not the paper, because it's a little smaller and less intrusive if you happen to be seated close to another table. If you want to just relax and enjoy your meal, more power to you! But I take a book everywhere I go (welcome to the land of mass transit), so I always have one anyway.

I tend not to get sent into a corner if I'm on my own, but that probably depends on the restaurant.

People eating on their own in Manhattan is a pretty common phenomenon, so things may be a bit different here than they are elsewhere. One universal rule? Don't talk your head off on your cell phone the whole way through. Annoying!!!

And if you do read something, make sure you keep one eye out for the waiter, so they know it's ok to disturb you.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please post about your adventures.

The couple of times I've gone to restaurants alone (training personnel at company sites in different cities) the hostess always threw me to the bar though I would have much preferred a table. 

I chalked it up to tables being reserved for parties where it would be worth a waitstaff's effort...meaning, a tip left from a table of two or more always trumps a tip left from a single diner.

Bar eating can be fun, though! The bar at Ouest here in Manhattan is one of my favorite places to eat. The bartenders are all fabulous to chat with, but they'll leave you alone if you ask.

I've generally observed that hosts and hostesses recommend the bar as being faster than waiting for a table, but are not annoyed if I decide to wait...

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I normally bring a book, magazine or newspaper if I'm eating alone in a restaurant, or a laptop...depending on the venue. Usually a book in a nice place, as the paper is unwieldy. I don't think it's poor manners to read; it's not as though you have tablemates to whom you should be paying attention.

I don't mind eating at the bar if they decide to put me there, unless it's particularly raucous...unless there's a hockey game on, in which case, I need no book, and I'll shout with the rest of 'em. :wink:

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If I wait for all my friends to get their schedules and finances straight before eating out, I'd never eat anywhere. I have some pretty interesting adventures eating alone, and have bought reading materials into Jean Georges, Gramercy Tavern, Hearth, Gothan Bar and Grill and Jewel Bako. It's very normal in New York.

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I eat out by myself frequently. I bring reading material only occasionally, and usually just relax and discreetly take in the scene. I think that a lot of the time, we New Yorkers don't give ourselves time to relax enough, and mealtimes are good times to dedicate to that purpose, when that's possible.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I often travel alone because my husband prefers to remain at home in the United States, so, when I found this website Solo Dining, I read much of it eagerly! This is nothing short of a self-adventure for people dining out alone!

A story on dining alone.. a dialogue between a diner and a very perceptive maître d':

"You are alone?" He asked me.

"Yes," I said. And then the maître d' jumped in.

"No! You are not alone! Now you are here, dining with us!" he said, smiling, and with a gesture of his hand indicated the restaurant.

It was perhaps one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. I settled into my seat and watched the families and couples enjoy their dinner while I slurped the last briny oysters of my visit. And the feeling of being alone was forgotten.

source

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Being from South Beach, I've mainly dined well there on my own. I've been treated well at Osteria Del Teatro (nice Italian), Da Leo (amazing vegetable puree soups, and home made pasta!), Papillon (casual French Bistro), Joe's (hit them for lunch, they love women!) and Pacific Time(what can I say???? amazing).... many a time! I don't usually order the most expensive things, sometimes it's only soup, appetizer and dessert! I am incredibly outgoing and 'smiley', though, and that always colors my experiences in a friendlier light. AND, I've read a book in each and every one of those nice places, as well as in numerous diners and other restaurants. Megan Blocker, if you feel like it, take a book! Reading a book and sitting at a nice table, full and with a nice dessert in front of me, is one of my happiest alone with myself pleasures! What, I don't deserve to enjoy my meal AND a book? It's a religion now to eat? There are RULES about not reading? Believe me, it is a pleasure to see someone truly enjoy the experience of a meal to the chef, proprieter and staff. Life is horrible and wonderful, and I expect my personal time to be pleasant. I never expect to be asked to sit at a 'bad' table, just because I'm alone on one particular night or day, but i don't mind being seated near the kitchen, etc. After all, it's a great spot for seeing what everyone is getting for THEIR meal! I'm always very kind to people, and I tip VERY well, I think of the tip as part of the cost of the meal, and not as a punishment. I have had so few bad experiences in restaurants on my own (other than mediocre food a few times) that I can't recall any right now. In fact, I've driven all up and down the East Coast and had some amazing experiences as a lone diner in many places. Many times I am in a small town and I am obviously not from the neighborhood, and I've been given free drink or food(yeah, that's why I had to eat the 2nd dessert, it was a gift!) and free tickets to shows and zoos. I also have received art from a few folk artists because I happened to be eating near them, more than once, which is a testament to the huge amount of folk artists in the South East, and not to my considerable charms! Gee, kiddle is out of town for 2 weeks, it's time for a Mommy alone road trip!

More Than Salt

Visit Our Cape Coop Blog

Cure Cutaneous Lymphoma

Join the DarkSide---------------------------> DarkSide Member #006-03-09-06

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I eat alone fairly often for various reasons and rarely have felt uncomfortable. Sometimes I'll be offered a seat at the bar but if I'd prefer a table, I'll ask for a table and it doesn't seem to be an issue. And I wouldn't insist it was very busy and I'd be preventing a group of 4 from being seated for example. Sometimes I am asked where I would feel most comfortable sitting.

I don't usually read as I, like Pan, tend to want to relax and observe the scene instead, but sometimes I have been offered reading material by a waiter. Sometimes the staff will chat with me a little more than they would if I were with a companion and we have some interesting conversations. Sitting at the bar I've enjoyed the interaction between the waitstaff and the bartender, especially when they appeared to forget that I was a customer.

I have sometimes noticed what seems like discomfort or surprise at my single status, but when I make it clear that this is not, in my view, an unhappy or unwanted situation, the staff lighten up.

As for adventure, all I can offer is that I have had some wonderful meals dining alone at restaurants here in Vancouver and elsewhere. The only adventurous part was the food.

Cheers,

Anne

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Having lived in unwedded bliss for 15 years, I learned that if I wanted to go somewhere and waited for someone else to go I would spend a lot of time at home.

I long ago got over any discomfort in solo dining. Sometimes I take a book and sometimes not. Depends on my mood and the situation. I often lunch alone when I'm out and about.

I did have one uncomfortable meal in a Mexico City fonda but I don't know whether it was because I was alone or because the young waitress didn't like serving a Gringa. She gave me my food, retired to the kitchen, and glared at me throughout my whole meal. The other waitress had to bring me my check.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I eat out alone at least once a week. They are more informal type of resturants, unless I'm on business. Never really bothers me and I read or do what ever I want.

One curious thing is that when I've gone to Dim Sum, at some chinese resturants they have asked if I mind sharing a table. I've never have a problem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...