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Opening Arguments

Dining alone

Are you embarrassed to be seen eating out alone?

About 57 percent of eating and beverage occasions now occur when people are by themselves, according to a recent report from The NPD Group, a market research firm. The portion is highest for non-meal occasions (industry speak for snacking) followed by breakfast, lunch and then dinner.

Time constraints, active lifestyles and a record percentage of one-person households are fueling the trend.

Stigma starting to shift

“In the past, there really has been a stigma around eating alone, and it’s started to change over the years,” said Aaron Allen, founder of a restaurant consulting firm, in a phone interview. …

Actually, I've always enjoyed eating out alone. I don't have to engage in chit chat with a dining companion, so I'm free to enjoy my meal in whatever manner I want. Sometimes I read a book or a newspaper, sometimes just people watch, and if I feel like it I can flirt with the waitress a little.

Going to movies alone, though, different story. I don't know why, but I find it embarrassing to be seen alone at a movie. It always feels like an admission of social failure.