A solo diner’s decision to share an uncomfortable experience she had over the holidays seems to have actually prompted some positive change.
On Thanksgiving day, Alegra Kastens (@alegrakastens) decided to pop down to a restaurant in her Brooklyn neighborhood for a quick lunch. She told her TikTok viewers that Henry’s End was the only place open, and when she arrived, there were several seats open at tables inside and outside, as well as at the bar.
But when she approached the man at the front, who later turned out to be the owner, she was told the restaurant was completely booked up.
“OK, maybe he does have reservations,” Kastens allowed. “But as I’m walking out the door and I’m turning the corner, a couple walks in and I hear him say, ‘We have bar availability and we have outdoor availability.’ Which tells me that he didn’t seat me because I am by myself.”
Irritated at what went down, she called the restaurant when she got home to check on their availability for the day, but was told to go look online because the owner was too busy and couldn’t be bothered to check. Via their online reservation system, the TikToker found openings for multiple time slots, but only parties of two or more were allowed to reserve.
“I go to places by myself quite often. It doesn’t bother me. I’m not embarrassed by it,” she explains in the clip. “But some people, it takes a lot of courage to get up and go to a restaurant by themselves, especially on a holiday. And then you get denied seating because you’re by yourself—which can already feel painful. I did cry for a minute or two.”
As Kastens said, dining alone at a restaurant can be uncomfortable. It can make people feel self-conscious about not having anyone with them, or it can even make people feel bad about taking up space when a larger party might have come in and provided the restaurant and the server with more money.
Her viewers made it abundantly clear that this is something many of them worry about, either for themselves or for other people in their lives.
“I see older people eating by themselves all the time (probably because their spouse has already passed), and I can’t imagine them turning them away,” wrote @abileen2.0.
“I very rarely get the nerve to go out by myself, this would have devastated me going forward,” @ashabalee admitted.
“My father just lost my step mom and goes out alone now,” @khr0w shared. “The thought that someone would turn him away enrages me. I literally want to scream right now.”
@alegrakastens Never eating here again 🤮 Sending love to my single friends and those alone today 🧡 #singletok #singlewomen #thanksgiving ♬ original sound – Alegra Kastens
Kastens’ video racked up enough views in such a short time that it wound up catching the attention of the owner’s daughter, who she says reached out the very next morning to apologize. In Kastens’ follow-up video, she acknowledged that the owner also apologized for being rude to her and handling things poorly at the time—but there was something else.
“He also said that because of this, he’s changing his Open Table policy where parties of one can now book reservations online, and that is amazing,” she says. Although some concerned commenters said the booking system had not yet been adjusted for these changes, booking a reservation for one person was possible at the time of publication.
“What I want is for changes to be made so that people aren’t treated the way that I was yesterday and that single diners can have experiences just like diners in larger parties,” Kastens adds. “And it sounds like changes are being made, and that’s wonderful. That’s all I can ask for.”
The Daily Dot has reached out to Henry’s End via email and Kastens via her website.