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Learning Choices


Ms. Biz Solo Dining -- Make it Fun!


JourneyWoman Marya Charles Alexander of California is the editor and publisher of Solo Dining Savvy. She is also the brains behind the report entitled: 100+ Top U.S. 'Solo Dining Savvy' Restaurants. Marya writes...

Forget room service. Having a good time while dining out alone is easier than you think. Whether you're travelling for business or pleasure, meal time should be fun time. As a travelling woman with endless hours of solo dining under my belt (pardon the pun), here are just a few of my tried and true tips that should make your food experiences much more entertaining.

Nestle with a newspaper...

newspaperBring along something to read. If you forget, enlist your staff person. Since a "reading meal" is traditional entertainment for solo diners, increasing numbers of restaurants maintain a selection of newspapers and magazines for their guests. Contrary to popular belief, rather than frowning on reading, fine dining restaurants welcome this activity, especially when it enhances a solo diner's comfort. They believe the more comfortable you become dining out alone, the sooner you'll relax into savoring all aspects of their dining experience -- including the ambiance of their restaurant. Solos, in their unhindered singular state, are better able to appreciate restaurateurs' efforts in this regard --- and they know it!

Be a restaurant regular...

staffIn one city for a longer period of time? Then you need an extended-family connection in your life --- a place where they know your name. Cultivate a restaurant that feels "just right." From a casual corner mom 'n pop to a fine dining classic, the choice is yours. Once you decide on a restaurant, stake out your favorite spot --- perhaps a tiny table tucked by a window overlooking the ocean, a booth for two as comforting as a hug, or a stool at a bustling food counter --- and frequent the restaurant regularly. Tell them you're a traveller who's chosen their spot as your home-away -from-home. As a cherished regular, you'll probably receive insider treatment, like helpings of in-house gossip and preview tastings of new wines and dishes.

Kibbitz with the cook... chef

Choose your restaurant and where you sit with care. Want to pick up free cooking tips from celebrity chefs? Check out the growing array of restaurants offering chef's counters that cozy up to the kitchen. Besides getting a taste of how restaurants work, you'll find yourself kibbitzing with culinary kings and queens and with kindred counter-diners.


Spot the celebrity... anchor woman

Read the "Dining Out" sections of local newspapers. Check out the gossip columns. Hot, trendy restaurants --- magnets for celebrities --- are perfect for people watching. You never know who you'll see! When you decide to sample one, survey the seating layout ahead of time. Note tables with unrestricted views, especially those including the entrance, and specify one of them when you make a reservation.


Connect with communal diners...

Ask your hotel concierge about restaurants in the immediate area that integrate solo diners. The concept of communal table dining, also named (friendship, captain's, networking, maverick, chef's, etc.) is popping up in a variety of sizes and configurations. communal diningThis type of seating ranges from intimate --- accommodating three or four diners --- to grand --- seating 30 or more. Whether this dining option appears as a circle, rectangle or oblong, it's as beloved by couples and groups as it is by solos. Communal table dining is an incredible way to share a meal and it offers singles an opportunity to meet with the locals. A real bonus!


Find your fantasy...

Fantasize about your fellow diners. the QueenThe world's a stage and your surrounding cast performs just for you. Their snippets of conversation will spark your imagination. That couple to your left --- married or unmarried? Such a heart-warming display of fond glances and murmured asides --- wouldn't it be wonderful if this represents married bliss? Glance again at the woman just seated nearby. (Everyone else in the restaurant is!) Attractive and self-assured she commands attention --- why, they've given her the best table in the room. M-m-m-m.... I wonder who she is?


Make notes...

Solo dining is a delicious opportunity for note taking; for catching up on your last business meeting or, gathering material for that novel you've been meaning to write. And if the staff mistakes you for a food critic and treats you accordingly, so much the better!


Indulge, indulge, indulge...

cakeEat what you want, when you want it! Solo dining is an elegant opportunity to celebrate yourself. (especially recommended for those known more for lavishing generosity on others, rather than on themselves!) Tonight, there's no one to say "But that's so fattening..." when you announce, "I'm having only desserts this evening. I'll begin with the double devil's food cake and don't you dare spare the whipped cream". Just enjoy and allow others to minister to YOU for a change.

And here's more good news - the suggestions above are simply entrees. Once you begin asserting your right to entertainment-enriched solo dining, you'll discover the world is your oyster. The more you indulge yourself, the more your options for entertainment will multiply.

Savvy solo dining!

Communal dining alive and well in New York ...

loaf of breadLe Pain Quotidien (French for "daily bread") is a countrified bakery-cafe in Manhattan's Upper East Side. This sole U.S. standard-bearer (with 26 sister restaurants in Belgium ) features a large well-used communal table. Our 26' long common table is the largest," said Proprietor Bob Scarborough. Throughout the day, its length is packed with all flavors of humanity, from people going to work, to mothers out for a stroll with children -- it's fortified with all combinations, including solos, couples and groups. (Currently, 80% of the solo guests are female.) The chemistry at this big table is unpredictable. "One couple met here, and now they're dating," said Scarborough. P.S, Tables for two are available for those who require a more private space.

Menu items: $2-18. 1131 Madison St., New York, NY 10028, Tel: (212) 327-4900

For a listing of other Le Pain Quotidien bakeries in select countries around the world see:

(Source: Solo Dining Savvy)


Women's words on waitresses...

waitressThe waitress intoned the specialties of the day. "Chicken Cordon Bleu, Sole Amandine, Veal Marsala." She might have been a train conductor in a foreign country, calling out the strange names of the stations.

(Source: Hilma Wolitzer, Hearts (1980), New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women)

Womens words on being alone...

opposumBeing solitary is being alone well: being alone luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your own presence rather than the absence of others.

(Source: Alice Koller, The Stations of Solitude, 1990, New Beacon Book of Quotations by Women)


More solo travel motivation...

If you need further motivation to try solo travel, here are a few more links you might like to follow...

She Goes Solo -- She Finds Courage
Her Diary Entries Help Other Travellers
Solo Travel - Solo Evenings
Travel Solo But Not Alone
Dining Solo in The Big Apple
Ms. Biz Solo Dining -- Make it Fun!
She's Independent in India
Travelling Solo in Paris


Keeping yourself safe and happy...

She Deals With Loneliness on the Road
She’s So Very Subway Savvy
Safety Tips for Women Joggers
She's Hotel Savvy -- She Stays Safe
Cruising as a Solo Travel Option




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