Solo Supplement: Share a table and start sharing a social dining trend

If you walked into a restaurant alone, and you were asked if you would prefer to sit at ‘the social table’ – with other people, strangers – would you choose it?

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A number of considerations might spring into your head in the nano-seconds before deciding YES or NO. For me, it would be about why I have chosen to eat out. No food in the house/ don’t fancy cooking/ haven’t got time to cook as due somewhere else soon?  Just driving home past a bistro and a sign outside advertised the new menu and I had a 10% off voucher? Perhaps I’m celebrating something? Or it could be that I fancy eating while thinking through a problem or need to scope out a blog, an article or a presentation?

Even as the nano-seconds are ticking by I would still need to ask if I could see the table.  I’d want to be sure it wasn’t in a dark corner, next to the loos. While I’m checking out the table location, is anyone already sitting at it? Only one: do I want to chat to that person? Two: are they a couple or just friends? I don’t want to be a gooseberry! Have they started their meal? I don’t want to join people who are already scoffing pudding as my starter is arriving! Maybe someone else might come along before they leave…….

Wait a minute! Who am I kidding? Of course I’d say YES to the social table, regardless of any of the above circumstances. I always say YES to social dining, even if I’m the first to take a seat. I’m certainly not going to turn it down in front of a table where people are already sitting at it. To do so would be churlish.

I only know of two organisations where I have been offered the choice of a social table, and they are: a Spa Hotel; and a cruise ship. The canny people who run such organisations know that a large proportion of their clientele are travelling alone for the rest, relaxation and recuperation offered in such surroundings. But it doesn’t mean that such people aren’t sociable. I have shared many a convivial lunchtime/ dinner with a range of interesting and amusing people, willing to share, and to let others share, their stories. And some of us have been known to rearrange our dining times to organise a table together……

But what if you could choose to go to eat somewhere in your area, that offers great food at communal tables, in the home of a talented cook (or even a professional chef) where you can book a seat for one? Where you can choose the menu you like, the price you pay and maybe even an event where you know one of the other people attending. That information will have been on the website through which you booked, and which aims, amongst other things, to reduce the number of people in the UK who regularly eat every meal alone. I recently booked in my local area and ate yummy food at a fun evening where, of the 7 diners, I knew only the host (from networking) and another person who I didn’t know would be there. I paid £30 in advance – less than I might have spent eating out on a Saturday night - when I wouldn’t normally eat out alone, to avoid romantic couples. (That might just be me!)

This is great news for sociable solos, isn’t it? According to one of the founders, 30% of all tickets go to people who book a solo seat. But it is also good news for people who are the friends of solos, and want to take them to a dining experience where they might feel confident to try it alone at a future date. And if there isn’t a host near you, there soon will be: the ambitious team aims to have hosts in most locations in the UK! Check out the link below and see what is happening in your area.

I’ve been banging on about social dining, to cater for diners who would normally eat out alone, but wouldn’t mind company, for a number of years. Restaurants could after all benefit and profit from not having solo dining at a table for 2 covers. So why don’t they trial and advertise ‘social dining’ events, or an offer of a social dining table (and the number of seats) at certain lunch or dinner services?

What do you think, and what do you know is happening in your area? Please let me know via comments on this blog or @cjisolo on Twitter or Facebook

For information about organised social dining events near you visit wefifo

Christine Jane Ingall

Solo lifestyle expert, author, speaker and blogger, Cjiwrites

After unexpectedly living alone for 30 years, and realised I knew a lot about how to make sure it didn't blight your life. I wrote a self-help guide. "Solo Success! You CAN do things on your own", published in 2017. I use my experience to help people to get rid of the fear of being visibly alone in a couple-centric society, so that they can gain the confidence to go out and do things on their own. Everyday activities such as going out for a tea or coffee, going to the cinema or for a walk. Since my book's publication I have contributed articles to print and online publications, radio broadcasts and presented at events, including a workshop at The Best You Expo 2018. For latest see