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Mar 23, 2009 04:51 AM

Reading at the table? [moved from Boston board]

I have a late lunch reserved at one of the fancier Restaurant Week locations, but due to family and friends' schedules, will be going alone. How awful would it be if I brought a book?

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  1. This will undoubtedly be moved to Not About Food.

    Solo diners are always free to bring reading material (though I would suggest it not be of Hogwarts spell book size or decoration that calls attention to itself) . And I don't care how fancy the restaurant is. A restaurant that would inhibit the practice is a restaurant that is inhospitable, and thus contravenes its fundamental purpose.

    1. I can't see a problem so long as you aren't so into your book that you're oblivious to any waiting patrons (and your server) with the amount of time you're taking. Taking one bite between chapters would boil my blood if I were waiting and waiting on a two-top.

      And even if nobody seems to be waiting, I'd tip very well if you're spending substantially more time than you normally would.

      1. I used to travel alone for business and would treat myself to the most high end restaurant in the city with my book. No one ever minded and I was not usually relegated to a corner although back in the day they used to put women dining alone in corners. I usually just ask for a table with a little light.

        1. I find it absolutely impossible to dine alone without any reading material, whether at home or at a restaurant. Like tubman, I'd be cognizant of service to the table and not take up any extra time. And yes, tip well!

          1. This was just discussed a week or so ago on a thread about dining alone, and the consensus was, we all do it and it's perfectly acceptable - except for one Angeleno who considered it to be "wasting" the restaurant's time, but everyone knows Californians don't read! (just kidding, just kidding)

            12 Replies
            1. re: BobB

              That was me, the lone Angeleno. I eat out alone but would never bring a book. It's a restaurant, not a library and people with books tend to linger a lot longer, usually at a space that would otherwise seat two or more.

              1. re: rednyellow

                I disagree with that. I'm done faster when alone, book or no book. A book is less of a distraction or slow down than another person at the table. I don't have to stop eating to read, while to have a conversation, I have to pause in eating more often.

                1. re: Sooeygun

                  Agreed. People who eat alone tend to finish faster regardless of whether they have a book. It's easy to chew and read, while that's not really a polite option when you are talking to others. When you have one person who completely dominates a conversation, it takes even longer because everyone else is finished while the talker has only taken a bite or two.

                  1. re: Sooeygun

                    I'm with you. That book is just replacing the conversation that I'm not having because I am eating alone. It doesn't make my meal last any longer.

                  2. re: rednyellow

                    And as a solo diner, jfood would what.

                    If the restaurant does not want to seat solos then they make that policy. Once seated at a table that customer has the same rights (not legal) as anyone else in the restaurant. If other tables are allowed 90 minutes so is the solo diner.

                    1. re: jfood

                      Yes, and if the server treats me well instead of an underpaying burden, she or he will typically get a tip that equals or betters what would have been given by two diners...

                      But woe to the server who treats me as an underpaying burden. Woe indeed.

                      1. re: Karl S

                        Woe Baby indeed.

                        And a good sign for a bad tip is jfood getting up and walking over to grab his own pepper mill for the salad after waiting 5 minutes. And yes it has happened.

                        1. re: jfood

                          That's why I starte carrying my own Peugeot pepper mill with me!

                          1. re: tracylee

                            Haven't done that but I have been known to travel with a little plastic bottle of Melinda's XXX Habanero Sauce in my computer bag.

                            1. re: BobB

                              the glove box of my car is known as the mobile condiment rack!?lol
                              you just never know when you are really going to need Chalula or malt vinegar!:-)

                      2. re: jfood

                        Agreed. I'm out within 60 minutes as long as my food comes in time. Most of the time, the book is for the time when I've ordered and when my food comes. I rarely read while I'm eating or linger to finish pages after I'm done eating... maybe just to nurse my iced tea.

                        Take my order, bring me my food, check up on me at least once during the meal, refill my drink, give me my check anytime I've gotten my food, and I'm a happy woman. I try to pay ASAP so that I can leave anytime I want.

                        I don't think I need to tip more than normal. What additional burden am I giving them? I know I'm at a table for 2, but if 4 of us were seated at a table for 6, we shouldn't have to tip more either.

                        If I linger and look like I'm lingering, but never if people are waiting, I will tip more - need to waste time in between appointments, etc. I only do this at a coffee shop where the owners know me or at a hotel restaurant that has lots of available tables.

                        1. re: boltnut55

                          jfood agrees with you onthe tip.

                          You tip based on the number of diners, not number of chairs.