Solo diners make up the fastest growing restaurant party size, according to recent research from online reservations platform OpenTable.
The San Francisco-based company’s internal research found reservations for solo-diner parties increased 62 percent over the past two years.
The analysis, released in October, found Dallas ranked as the top metropolitan area for single-diner reservations, followed in order by Miami, Denver, New York, Philadelphia, Las Vegas and Chicago.
Restaurant operators have capitalized on the trend over the past three years by adding more communal tables, such as those found in recent versions of Chili’s Grill & Bar, as well as kitchen-facing tables like those at True Food Kitchen and singles-oriented bar-height seating in recent Pei Wei Asian Diners and Modmarket locations.
“The findings indicate that the stigma surrounding dining solo may be starting to lift and that consumers are eager to savor unique culinary experiences alone,” OpenTable noted in its dining blog.
"As dining out has become one of our national pastimes, solo diners are taking every opportunity to visit top restaurants whenever they get the opportunity, much as they might attend a sporting event or show," said Caroline Potter, OpenTable’s chief dining officer, said in a statement.
"Solo dining is about treating yourself to a delicious experience and savoring every bite,” Potter added. “From communal and counter seating to doting table service, restaurants are welcoming parties of one with open arms.”
On OpenTable’s blog, reader Tom Rector explained that he’s been dining solo for decades.
“As one who has traveled extensively for work, I often find myself in a great city, and with no dining companion,” Rector wrote. “I never order room service, but refer to my targeted restaurants for that town (from research, reading and [word-of-mouth] research) and arrange to have dinner there. I (usually) enjoy a wonderful meal, meet interesting people, and gain some insight into the city visited.”
OpenTable, a division of the publicly traded Priceline Group, provides online reservations for more than 17 million diners a month at more than 32,000 restaurants.