Only a few years ago you’d hardly ever see someone in a restaurant dining on their own. If they had no one to dine with, people would much rather stay at home and order in, rather than be seen dining solo.
This trend is now changing. The world’s leading online table booking service – OpenTable – has performed research which indicates that the ‘social stigma’ of dining alone is becoming less of an issue. Single table reservations have more than doubled in the last two years alone.
Nearly nine out of ten people are now happy to dine alone
This does not seem to be a sign that people are become less social – in fact the opposite appears to be true. While 87 percent of the UK’s diners say that have no problem with dining solo, the most common reason given for dining alone is to enjoy a little ‘me’ time away from hectic careers and spending time with friends.
Dining alone is, unsurprisingly, more popular with seniors than it is with youngsters. People over the age of 55 are 22 percent more likely to dine alone compared to those under 25.
Nearly half of the 2,000 people surveyed said they would spend the time during a solo dinner date while they were not eating reading a book, while 36 percent said they’d play with their phone. Only five percent of woman and three percent of men said they’d pretend that they were waiting for someone to join them.
In another surprise revealed by the poll, only five percent of those questioned said they’d ‘phone a friend’ during their meal.
Me time is becoming ever more popular
A leading body language expert and psychologist Judi James said: “It is no surprise that eating out alone is fast becoming an attractive idea. In a world where we are constantly in conversation with colleagues, clients, friends and family, either face to face or via social media, people are increasingly craving solitude. As a result, societal attitudes towards solo dining have changed and much of the stigma has been shed. Eating out alone is now viewed by many as a liberating, rather than lonely experience.”
The managing direction of OpenTable, Mike Xenakis, said: ?Restaurants across the globe are increasingly accommodating the rise in dining alone by installing clever solo seating arrangements, such as: extra bar seating; counters where customers can watch chef’s work; and single window seating, to enjoy a view whilst eating their meal.”
OpenTable’s survey revealed people in Wolverhampton are most likely to dine alone (76%), and that diners from Gloucester were the least likely (27%). People from Brighton love time alone the most (52%) and Southampton residents are the most worried about the embarrassment of solo dining with three-quarters of those questioned saying they would not dine on their own.
If you’re worried about the ‘stigma’ of solo dining, then perhaps you needn’t be. Only seven percent of those questioned in the survey said they’d think poorly of someone if they saw them eating alone.