August 14 2014 – Robert Fiumara
Recent research trends are finding that, in recent years, consumers are eating out on their own far more frequently than they once did. Many studies find that approximately half of all eating out or beverage occasions are solo endeavors. How can your restaurant capitalize on this ever growing trend? First, you have to understand the makeup of your current prospective customers and provide a welcoming and attractive environment that will appeal to their sensibilities.
Courting a Wide Customer Base is Central to Success
Set a place for them. Bars and solo corner tables are attractive options to solo diners. It makes them feel more interacted with and less alone, as being seated in a booth or at a table for four when you’re eating on your own only highlights the fact that the guest is eating by themselves. Likewise, pay careful attention to your guest and meet their needs. Many solo guests are busy and want little interaction, these sorts of guests will often bring objects that will clue you in to the fact that they want to be left alone, such as books, papers, or a laptop. Some solo diners are eating out because they want some interaction. Expect these guests to come with little distraction and to make eye contact with you a whole lot. For these solo guests, they’re not just looking for a change of scenery to work in or an easy meal, they crave some social interaction. Go out of your way to meet those needs.
Above all, be attentive. If you see that a solo diner is looking for a work space, seat them close to an outlet for their laptops or electrical devices. If they tell you that they’re just there for a quick bite, do not hesitate to sit them close to the kitchen at a small table or at a counter if you offer such options. The expediency will be appreciated for these sorts of diners.
Providing entertainment is also a critical step in welcoming solo diners. Many restaurants choose top ut in a TV over the bar area, as it allows the diner to distract themselves without the need for socializing. Many restaurants also like to seat solo diners near the kitchen or where the food is prepared in order to allow the guest to watch the cooks prepare their food. Sushi places in particular are a good example of this, as they often keep their fish in large open displays and prep the food somewhat stylistically their at the counter. Another easy option is to provide easy internet access free of charge. As people grow more dependent on their electronics, they’ll love that complimentary service.
Solo Diners Are Here to Stay
Creating a welcoming environment for solo diners is easy and simple. As a result, you should capitalize on these eaters by modifying your restaurant slightly to meet their needs. If you do, you’ll find you’ll get your fair share of this new market demographic.