Thoughts on Solo Dining

Solo dining. Saddest trend? Hmm…

According to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune titled, “Dining Solo, You’re not Alone — Saddest trend story ever? More people dining alone, study says” — solo dining is on the rise, but depressing news.
I love solo dining. For me, it brings joy. If you follow me on social media, or listen to my weekly radio show, All in the Industry on Heritage Radio Network, then you know that I am a huge proponent of dining solo. On every episode, I give the rundown of a new, exciting solo dining experience and shed a positive light on being a party of one. I have done 88 episodes to date.

As you can imagine, I was delighted to read that solo dining is becoming more popular, but disappointed that this trend is being looked upon negatively. The Tribune piece explains that according to OpenTable, online reservations for one are up 62 percent over the past two years. That’s a lot more solo diners, and I actually think the number is even higher, as soloists, like myself, often go as walk-ins and do not make reservations.

But why is this a sad trend? Is treating yourself to a nice meal in a restaurant really a depressing thing? What’s wrong with dining alone in a social setting?

I think that sad would be the opposite — if a single person opted to stay in for a meal simply because they were alone, even if they really preferred to go out. If fear, or judgment, kept someone from dining in a restaurant it would be unfortunate.

An individual taking him or herself out for solo dining experience is actually a good thing. I wish this article had reflected this notion in its byline rather than put a negative spin on it. By questioning if it is the saddest trend ever, it puts this idea in people’s minds, creating more apprehension, especially of someone who has never gone stag.

I have dined solo around the world from the finest Michelin star restaurants to remote cafes and bars, and I have learned to ignore any onlookers who may be wondering why I am by myself, and enjoy my own company. I started dining solo simply because I love checking out new restaurants, and it’s not always easy to make plans with friends. Plus, as a single, I figured why not treat myself. I deserved it, right?

As I have become a solo dining “pro,” I have found that the more I dine alone, the more I appreciate it. I have discovered that I can go to practically any restaurant by myself and get in as solo spots are easier to come by. I can dine at the best restaurants and have amazing experiences, savoring every bite without any distractions. And, if I am feeling social, I can engage with other diners and possibly walk away with new friends or having had interesting conversations. Soloness can turn to socialness.

So, I say give solo dining a chance. Follow my lead and take yourself out for a nice meal alone. If you embrace it with an open mind, you will see that it can be wonderful. And not sad in the least.

Shari