Britain Is Finally Over Its Fear of Dining Alone
According to a new study, single cover reservations at UK restaurants have grown by 110 percent in the last two years, and 87 percent of British diners see no problem with eating out alone.
Photo via Flickr user Jim Pennucci
Think about your Top Ten Dining Experiences of All Time. That birthday dinner with all 30 of your closest friends and their various plus ones was great, and the romantic picnic your last OKCupid beau organised was nice, despite running out of things to talk about midway through the sausage rolls.
But you know what is probably just as much fun? Seeing through a weekend hangover with a gloriously unobserved brunch-for-one or taking up the window seat in your favourite coffee shop with only a croissant and a yes-this-seat-is-taken death stare for company.
Eating food with other human beings is great but sometimes you just need to be alone, man.
It seems that British diners have also discovered the joys of eating out alone. According to a new study from restaurant booking service OpenTable, single cover reservations at UK eateries have grown by 110 percent in the last two years.
The days of solo diners shuffling into restaurants and apologising their onto a table-for-one by the toilet may well be over. Polling 2000 British diners, the study also found that 87 percent had no problem with eating out alone and 42 percent added that their main motivation for doing so was to enjoy time on their own.
Managing director of OpenTable Mike Xenakis put this newfound acceptance of solo dining down to changing attitudes in the restaurant industry.
"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 chefs work, and single window seating, to enjoy a view whilst eating their meal," he said in a statement.
Some restaurants are going a step further than simply accommodating solo diners. Last year saw the opening of Eenmaal, a temporary restaurant in Amsterdam decked out entirely with tables for one, and in Japan, Tokyo's "anti-loneliness" cafe seats solo diners with stuffed animal companions.
It may be some time before British eateries reward single cover tables with teddy bears, but it seems we are learning not to see the the guy enjoying a solo lunch as an IRL Forever Alone meme. Just 7 percent of survey respondents said that they would think negatively of someone eating without company, a call to arms for any would-be solo diners (and yet more veracity to your mum's old trope: no one cares as much as you think they do).
The survey also delved into the geography of Britain's solo diners. Wolverhampton came out as the table-for-one capital, with 76 percent of respondents there saying they had dined alone. Conversely, 75 percent of respondents in Southampton admitted that potential embarrassment stopped them from doing so.
Lighten up, Sotonians! There are plenty of things you can do. The stats also showed that 46 percent of solo diners bring a book to entertain themselves during their meal, while 36 percent find amusement with their phones.
Who needs social interaction when you have Candy Crush Saga, a huge bowl of ramen, and no one to wipe your mouth for?