The thought of private dining congers a scene of masticating alone, satisfying the impulse of brutal hunger in one’s very own, private abode, savouring a unique culinary experience without the presence of strangers. 

As lonely and cold as eating alone may sound, technically, that is exactly what private dining is. 

Private Dining For The Masses

At Citreus Catering we have a reputation that precedes us. We are renowned caterers at venues and events with bigger crowds – our experience allows us to cater for the numbers, and this is what we do well.

However, with regard to private dining, there is always a private space within an establishment that is only for a limited number of guests and our catering team adapts well and puts on a show with big flavours.

For example, The Angel, a Tudor dining venue in Pershore, Worcestershire has two, purpose-built function rooms for private dining – serving, high quality, locally sourced food. 

A top-quality venue like this boasts surroundings that are ample and aesthetically pleasing, facilitating a feeling of luxurious privilege for those fortunate enough to have their name on the guest list and they build a reputation from the kitchen upwards. 

You’re never alone with private dining.

We are social creatures by nature and, likewise, rarely will you see a table in a restaurant set for one.  However, quite surprisingly, an online reservations service, announced a 62% increase for solitary diners over the last two years.

Does this mean that the Billy-no-mates stigma has been lifted? Is the Covid paranoia still at large or are people just less sociable than they used to be?

Restaurant Economics

It’s still too early to tell why many people are now choosing to experience culinary delights alone but, clearly, the scarcity of tables for one has now found its way into restaurant economics.

If people are prepared to pay a supplement for the privilege of single-table service, it soon becomes a thing. 

Luxury restaurants created a private dining experience for two or more diners and a natural assumption soon developed to suggest that nobody dined alone.

Communal tables disappeared in the late 19thcentury and an escape from the crowds was a desirable luxury that came at an affordable price.  

Tables were set for two and portions made accordingly and, by 1890, only those unfamiliar with private dining entered a restaurant with the intention of eating alone.  

Faster Food 

The pressures of life saw a rise for fast food in the late 1970s- eating in the here and now without consideration for an eating companion – and so the burger for one helped to alleviate self-consciousness and remove the stigma of the lone diner. 

The stigma of eating alone differs for males and females. Traditionally, men felt awkward eating alone and complained of being treated less favourably than the double-diners and, for centuries, lone females were shunned in many establishments due to the suspicion of ‘working the streets’, and attracting an ill-natured element, tarnishing the restaurant’s credibility as a first-class eatery for those with taste and status. 

Ladies that Lunch

Until the early 1900s, groups of women were ignored or turned away from certain restaurants for similar assumptions and only those considered to be ‘ladies’ would receive service when wishing to dine alone. 

And it wasn’t until the 1970s that career women started to protest their right to dine alone without prejudice and poor service. It was a difficult narrative of defiance as the majority of people still found it difficult to understand why one would wish to dine alone at all.

Assumptions of character flaws and failed rendezvous are often used as a reason for solitary dining and, just as there have always been people who prefer to dine alone, the restaurant’s perspective on the matter has always been one of economics. Why should they set a table for one when tables for multiple occupants bring in more money? Even couples walking into a restaurant with empty tables are turned away when those tables are primarily set for multiple diners. 

The business aspect of a restaurant is structured to sell as much food and drink as possible without having to open at 7 am for alcoholics with the munchies – a la Wetherspoons.

Redefining Private Dining

Unfortunately, I think we have to accept that the mealtime ritual is getting harder and harder to sustain. An increase in single-parent families since the 1960s, the rise of technology and the pressures of work have all redefined the concept of private dining. 

60% of meals are eaten in front of a television and a third of people admit to not even having a conversation. 

Nearly half of adult eating is done alone and yet we don’t even realise we are doing it. We just find as many dining opportunities as possible and take advantage of whatever is available.

Times change and so do eating habits. There is also a shift in the way people choose to dine at weddings. Traditionally assigned seating at a grand table is the order of the big day but all that seems to be changing as a new generation of brides look for ways to take the stress away from the arranged seating element, opting for a more casual, stand-up affair of unsupervised mingling.

Private dining alone may be an increasingly popular way to dine but is it the healthy way to dine?

Many would argue – as I’m sure many parents of a certain age would – eating together as a family is happier and healthier; balances the mind and nourishes the soul and the stomach.

Likewise, the statistics show that private dining is becoming increasingly private and, if restaurants can make it work, I’m sure we’ll see more adverts for it and further studies that point to the personal benefits of a table for one.  

One thing we can’t ignore about private dining is that it is exclusively private for a reason. Many restaurants and venues have private spaces made available to cater specifically for those who wish to remain separate from the rest of the establishment, only permitting limited guests.

Upon request, one can tailor these private rooms or venues with designs and themes to fit the occasion.

What is Private Dining?

Whether dining for business or pleasure a question can be asked of the private space and a statement can then be made, essentially making private dining the perfect way to celebrate an occasion or hold an event. 

The aim of private dining is to create a unique, exclusive experience in an exciting venue, whilst taking advantage of the surroundings and tailoring the facilities to the needs of the guests.

You don’t have to be Russ Abbott to create a party atmosphere – only readers of a certain age will understand that pun – you can create a bespoke event on an MC Hammer budget with balloons and pictures or that of a billionaire Bill Gates budget, with zoo animals, yachts, Beyoncé and David Blaine escaping from a blood diamond ice cream sundae.

 It is only the lack of creativity that stands in the way of a memorable, private dining event.  

If it’s a slightly more serious corporate event with dwarf throwing – just kidding – private dining space can be found with multimedia and visual facilities too.

Basically, anywhere with a custom-built or private setting can accommodate a private dining occasion. 

Whether it is a wedding, birthday party, funeral, corporate event, family get-together, romantic breakfast, baby shower, or a solitary dining experience for one, try something different because private dining is what you make it.

The Best Venues

The venues on have spaces for guests of all sizes and they uniquely catalogue the best venues in the UK that specifically facilitate private dining.

We have worked with some of the biggest venues in the country and our quality on the table matches the exclusivity of the event. 

If you have any plans for a private dining event let us know if we can help by contacting us here.