Table for One? Absolutely!
Don't leave single customers out in the cold during the holidays.
The wintertime holidays stimulate a rise in gathering, celebrating and general frivolity. Restaurants, hopefully, see reservation books swell, welcome more people to the bars and book more end-of-the-year company soirees. But not everyone joins in on the fun.
If someone is single, lives far from family or works alone most of the time as a freelancer, the holidays can feel lonely, but they don’t have to.
“The holidays can be a tough time for many people, especially in the [restaurant] industry,” says Christian Hunter, chef at locavore-focused Sorghum & Salt in Charleston, S.C. “We strive to make everyone feel at home and even send out an extra course to welcome them.”
Hunter says restaurant owners can hold theme nights catering to singles like hosting a secret Santa/white elephant or a food drive to bring in a non-perishable food item for a charitable organization in return for a discount at the restaurant. In addition, if you have special seating, leave it available for single diners.
“When possible, we always invite solo diners to sit at our chef’s counter so they can have a more immersive experience,” Hunter adds. “The cooks are able to guide them through the menu and wine.”
Angel Powell, founder of Charleston, S.C.,-based South City Public Relations, has clients in numerous cities like Nashville, St. Louis and Jackson, Miss. She adds that to make single diners more comfortable is to arrange your dining room in such a way it’s not set up only for romance or large-group gatherings.
“If I walked into a restaurant as a single person and the entire set up was romantic two-tops, I might feel a little uncomfortable,” Powell says. “However, if you focus on chefs’ counters and community tables, the vibe becomes more fun and relaxing. People tend to co-mingle and have a livelier evening.”
Promote your restaurant setup and any events through social media posts, including photos of the room. Powell suggests adding straightforward posts about fun singles dinners or other events, or sharing a photo of the chef’s table with a caption to the tune of, “Your table for one is waiting.”
By being inviting for everyone, you might just make a regular patron for a solo diner who feels at home.
“A welcoming environment not only improves [someone’s] spirits during a tough time,” Powell adds, “but will likely create a loyal customer.”
Then it’s a win-win for everyone.