FOES or FOMO? Embrace dining solo!

Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls

Dear wandering entrepreneur,

You’ve heard about FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out. But what about FOES?

I’m talking about the Fear of Eating Solo.

That kind of fear that can take control of you, mainly at dinnertime, when you’re travelling alone. Ever experience it?

Well, truly speaking, I’ve experienced it myself a number of times and it’s no fun.


Yes, we won’t get the best seating (but if so, just walk out the door). Yes, we feel awkward because we don’t know what to do when there’s no food (or drinks) on the table. Yes, it seems that all the gazes are converging towards you..

But restaurants enable you to get the pulse of the city. Feel the people, taste the food which is part of the culture of where you are.

So, isn’t it stupid to miss the experience and eat take-away sushi (or even worse, a Subway sandwich!) alone in your room?

I love restaurants. I love eating out. I love the vibe of a nice place in the evening, the décor, the creative (or comfort) food and yes, I love people watching too. It just makes me happy.

So, from now on, I refuse to succumb to the spooky FOES. And there are ways to get over it.

Here are some tricks to finally enjoy dining solo.


  1. Eat at the bar

More and more restaurants nowadays have an open kitchen and attractive counter space around it to allow you to eat at the bar. This is absolutely brilliant for solo travellers. You don’t feel alone. You could end up talking to some nice people sitting next to you. You’re in the middle of the action. You have something interesting to do while waiting. Great vibe. Just brilliant.

Bonus – most of the time you don’t have to book because there’s usually space for you there.


Supernormal restaurant Melbourne

Supernormal, in Melbourne, has a fantastic counter


  1. The communal table

I’m from Belgium, the land that created the Pain Quotidien. The whole concept was based around the communal table. This absolutely clever concept is now getting traction worldwide..


Hotel Hotel Canberra

Monster Kitchen at Hotel Hotel in Canberra has got a super intelligently-designed communal table.


  1. Experience a restaurant especially designed for solo travellers.

The first (and only?) one-person restaurant experience is called “Een Maal”.

It was a pop-up concept back in 2014 that gathered rave reviews in the press. I’m not too sure what to think of it. It seems kind of sad to me, kind of ghetto-ish. Why would we have to go to a one-person restaurant, just because we’re alone? But at least, it draws the attention to the issue. Maybe the restaurateurs will now understand they could do something to make the solo traveller feel more at ease?

Eemaal restaurant amsterdam

Een Maal, a pop up concept. Is it going to inspire others?

  1. Suck it up.

No seating at the bar? No one-person restaurant in sight? Whatever. Choose the restaurant for its vibe and its cuisine; for the sheer pleasure of eating scrumptious food or experiencing a great décor.

Some advice to pump you up:

  • Demand a nice table. There’s no way you’re going to sit next to the loo.
  • Don’t worry about the others’ gaze: after all, you’re not that important and people have other fish to fry than staring at you the whole night!
  • Why not have a book or your smartphone handy to keep you busy if you need to (hey,let your social networks keep you company!)? But, it might also be a nice opportunity to disconnect and just enjoy the moment, to be in the now: enjoy good food, good wine, a nice place without anyone to bother you.
  • Be bold and confident. Don’t overthink it. Just do it!


Remember: you’re not alone in the case. A survey made by Opentable in America in 2015 revealed that reservations for parties of one have grown nationally by 62 percent.

So next time, you’re on a business trip with no (or boring) company to share an evening, don’t fear eating solo but instead be afraid of missing out, which is much worse!


PS: Tell me. Ever experienced F.O.E.S. yourself? What kind of trick do you use?


Picture credit: the cover picture is from the movie « Mean Girls »


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