A recently-widowed acquaintance, who is not someone I consider thin-skinned at all, went to a restaurant by herself. The hostess practically rolled her eyes when the lady asked for a table for one, and even asked, "Only one?" as if the business of a solo diner is too insignificant for them to grant the privilege of dining there. The point is, the widow had her bereavement driven home by an inconsiderate person. I think the hostess would have been pretty embarrassed had the widow said to her, "YES, MY HUSBAND DIED A MONTH AGO, AND NOW I AM DINING BY MYSELF."
I've been on my own for a bit over a year now, not by choice, and not because anyone died. My boyfriend walked out on me for another woman he'd been seeing behind my back for almost a year at that point. I haven't returned to many of the restaurants that we used to frequent, unless they were places where I dined before I met him. I haven't been back to the local steakhouse, or the pizza pub. I did attempt the Italian place one town over on two different occasions, but I just can't bring myself to go back.
Dining alone happens for myriad reasons. Like the widow, one's partner has died; or like me, my relationship ended and there's no one with whom I can dine. Some people are just grabbing a bite when others in their immediate circle aren't available. There are those who choose to be by themselves, who like their privacy, and for whom dining with others might be unpleasant or stressful. We still have money to spend on food, and the restaurant experience. I, too, was once the one waiting tables- I get that it won't be a big tab, but I am still going to spend money...so would you rather have my one-top, or no one at your tables?
I have to push myself to go inside a restaurant and sit by myself. Most of the time, I chicken out, go through a fast-food drive-thru, and eat in my car. The upshot is that I'd rather be lonely in my car than stared at in a restaurant (in case you are unaware, fat people invite that attention in any space where there's food involved). It's just one more instance when I wonder if this is it, and my routine will revolve around loneliness for the rest of my life.
If I didn't wake up with a cat lying on my legs in the morning, I'd probably be in even greater despair.