Wednesday, December 06, 2006

don't bring a book!

I'm going to invent a restaurant for solo travelers with that name. I've been away from home three nights now, and it is so boring and depressing to eat (almost) every meal, but especially dinner, all alone. And everywhere I go, I see business travelers or other people like me who are traveling by themselves, with their noses buried in a newspaper or, worse, chatting the entire time on a cell phone, because no one feels comfortable by themselves in a restaurant. I wish I was brave enough to go up to someone and say, "hey, we're both tired of dining alone, why don't we just have dinner together?" The only problem is that a guy would think I was hitting on him (and feel either happy or annoyed, depending on what he thought of me) and a woman would probably just think I was a weirdo. I did have a nice chat with a woman at breakfast, but it was just because she asked me a question as I was leaving, so we didn't actually eat together.

I have heard that in other countries, people do just routinely sit together and strike up conversations with strangers. That would be very nice. I enjoy talking to new people and would find that to be a lot of fun. Sure, there are lots of people who enjoy dining solo, but there are a lot of us who would welcome the chance to have some dinner companions, and the introverts would have plenty of other places to choose from.

If someone else wants to steal my idea, go ahead, just make sure that your food is very good, have some healthy options and offer some good wines by the glass. Also, make the food manners-friendly -- nothing that is hard to eat neatly or that splatters. I'll be your best customer.


  1. The chinese restaurant - where I used to over eat several times a week - was very tiny - with booths and always a long line. WHile you were in line, the custom was to find others that were alone and all sit together (so that the rest of the line would not have to wait so long). So, I have eaten with as many as 3 other people (all total strangers to each other) - very interesting. Usually everybody "stuck" to same se - x combinations."

  2. I just thought of something.

    I grew up in a town of about 18,000. We had NO fast food or national chain restaurants. One (oddly Greek) family restaurant and one upscale restaurant. Also - only one grocery - two pharmacies (one at each end of town) and just a few gas stations - also just one junior high and one high school - very small townish.

    At the family styel restaurant - there were bar stools at the counter - and if you think back to those times - most traditional (not upscale) restaurants did have counter service - and all those (lone) people sat and talked to each other like they were all sitting at the same big table - whether they knew each other or not - they mingled.

    I live on the very far northeast end of my city - it has very much a small town feel. so, up on this end - I would (and have) co-mingle. But anywhere else - in this day and age - I would not.

  3. I do the table sharing thing a lot when I'm traveling and at an airport. Somehow that feels much more acceptable than asking a total stranger in a place you don't know anyway to share a table with you. But at O'Hare, stuck during a long layover with lines out the wazoo at the food counters, why not share a table with someone? I've met some interesting people and discovered that our lives usually intersected in some odd ways. We parted happier for the human contact, however brief it was.

    Maybe I"ll be brave enough to try it in a restaurant in a real place next time.

  4. When I was pregnant with my first child, I liked eating at this one particular mexican all you can eat buffet. No one liked this place, so I happily ate there by myself every week. I would just sit and raise the flag for more.

    The few times I have traveled for business, I would always order takeout and eat in my room. I wasn't brave enough to tackle it by myself.

  5. You know, with your restaurant, you could screen people by their books and assign them seats. Like all of the sci-fi can sit together and the Danielle Steele ladies can have a table to themselves and that sort of thing.

    The last time I flew, it was out of Atlanta and the tables were just jammed packed. I think I snagged a table for 6 (which wasn't my intent -- I just wanted to eat my dinner without standing up). A very nice group of women came over and asked if they could join me. So I got to hear about orientation for the people who clean out the airplanes. This group was a very conscientious bunch of workers. One used to be a licensed social worker but burned out. It was a very interesting meal about airplanes, trash, manners (or lack of) and high burn out rates for social workers.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07