At restaurants, going solo was never so delicious

Restraunt owners believe that lone diners, like this one at Coast to Coast on M G Road, are an asset as they appreciate their space and food, and come back for the experience.

Lone diners calling out ‘Table for one please’ are no longer a testament to one’s loneliness, nor do they evoke disdain. On the contrary, they are quite an asset for restaurants which consider them the backbone of their industry.

Gaurav Saria, owner, tea master and chef of Infinitea believes in spreading the good cheer. He says that being in the hospitality industry is tricky as they cannot differentiate between customers and can definitely not turn away diners even if they are single. “We actually cherish lone diners as they come for the food, ambience and experience and since they appreciate our space, they are an asset,” he says.

Saria says that they also refrain from asking customers to pay a cover charge nor insist on a minimum order which is not binding for regulars. A cover charge is sometimes used as a means of crowd control so that admission is limited to couples who are willing to pay for the privilege of spending a few hours inside. Saria says that most fine dine restaurants levy a flat fee for customers to occupy a space so such places may get affected if lone diners occupy a table for two.

Prem Koshy of Koshy’s too believes that ever since their restaurant was started by his grandfather in 1952, they have welcomed guests as their Scriptures teach them to treat a guest like God. “We do not measure our guests by their monetary status nor do we insist on a cover charge,” he says.

Shradha Rungta, who works in the real estate sector and runs the cheesecake company Cheesecake Alley, believes that solo diners give cafes good business during the day as otherwise, they would have a lean period. Saria adds that their Indiranagar tea bar, when compared to their Cunningham Road chain, often sees start-up teams holding their meetings and co-working for hours on end.

He also has a set of regulars who frequent the cafe as they are lonely. Saria says that he has a regular who has been going through marital issues while there’s an elderly gentleman who is just lonely and finds solace in their cafe. “It warms the cockles of my heart that we can offer them an escape from their problems,” he says.

Burma Burma, a relatively new entrant into the food scene in Indiranagar, has seen mostly couples and families queue up at their restaurant. Manager Vijay says that although they do not have solo diners on most given days, they do accommodate them around the bar as it gives them an appetising view of the kitchen and they too can take good care of them.

Lone diners are often believed to be riddled with social insecurities as they may stare because they have nowhere to look or they may fear that everybody in the restaurant is staring at them and judging them. So do they suffer from solomangarephobia (a fear of eating alone in public)? Definitely not, says Shradha. She believes that singles at cafes are no longer shy as they use the space to meet people because they share a creative streak. She says that most cafe owners too strike up a conversation with lone diners to get a feedback about their fare.

Archana believes that dining alone is no longer a minefield of social anxieties. She echoes Saria’s opinion that all day cafes like hers offer a good vibe and are much sought after as co-working spaces.
“Ask any lone diner and they will tell you that they eat alone because its easier, they don’t have to make small talk and also because they find it fun and liberating,” Archana adds. A self-confessed solo diner, Shradha too says that she frequents cafes with aplomb as she uses it as a space to bring out the best in her creatively.

The case of lone diners is a strong one. There’s a clear trend of people who are no longer afraid to dine alone which is a plus for all players.

Not so lonely

Most cafes and restaurants encourage lone diners, here are some that are turning out to be favourites

- Koshy’s
- Infintea
- Starbucks
- Om Made Cafe

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At restaurants, going solo was never so delicious

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