BENGALURU:The concept of single diners has slowly started to gain steam in India, especially in metro cities.Business travellers and office-goers who tend to often grab something on the go or have to dine out all by themselves are majorly driving this trend. Earlier, people were not comfortable heading out for a meal alone and neither were restaurant staff trained to welcome such guests.
Things are different now. Restaurants have identified an important audience segment in single diners. From training their staff, formulating a marketing strategy, making change in the ambience and curating an exclusive menu, restaurants are doing everything to grab the attention of this new breed of diner’s.
ITC Gardenia and ITC Windsor together get an average of 450 orders from single diner’s menu every week. The Den serves around 30 to 40 per cent of single diner guests who come for conferences, seminars, training. Though JW Marriott, Bengaluru does not have an exclusive menu for single diners, they customise guest experiences, especially if the single diner is a guest staying at their hotel.
JWM gets an average of 85 per cent of individual travellers every month. Mainland China and Oh! Calcutta from the Speciality Restaurants Group too have started a specially crafted three to four course menu for such diners.
The single diner menu at ITC Gardenia and Windsor is an amalgamation of their best dishes in small tasting portions to give diners a variety of items, without having to order full portions, avoiding wastage of food and money, making it an immense hit among such profile of guests. “This is in line with our ‘Responsible Luxury Culinary Initiative’ of delivering luxury in a responsible manner to our guests in all kinds of service offering”, says Amaan Kidwai, General Manager at ITC Gardenia Bengaluru.
For business and luxury hotels, this might be an interesting trend but for standalone restaurants, it is not the same. Kushagra Nagrath, of Phoenix Mills Limited believes that the ‘single diner’ section is not a large one currently as compared to groups of families, friends and couples. However, it is certainly a fast growing category.
Since Shizusan (part of Phoenix Mills) is located in a mall, the single diners are mostly solo shoppers looking to grab a quick bite or working professionals on the go between meetings. Nagrath adds, “The necessity for having such holistic meal option is not restricted to single diners. Most guests when visiting in groups do prefer the luxury of choice wherein they can enjoy a wholesome meal without having to share or the guilt of wastage.”
One important reason why single diners are increasingly becoming comfortable dining out is the hospitality and treatment they receive from the serving staff. Hotels are taking extra effort to sensitise and train their staff to ensure single guests feel welcome. Vinesh Gupta, general manager, The Den says, “Speed, comfort and value are central to enticing single diners. They need time and do not like to be pressurized. Hence, we ensure that they are comfortable and at ease.”
As part of the specially curated entertainment menu, The Den Bengaluru has quite a few options like The Den Community Table and Play House for the single diners to socialise.Concluding how this concept will fare in the next few years, Kidwai predicts, “This trend is here to stay and pick up more eventually because of the effervescent and ever developing IT sector of Bengaluru, which has seen a positive influx of travellers to the city.”