Have you noticed the inexorable rise of dining alone? A Taichung roast meat restaurant has set up single-person grilling stations to cater to the growing trend of single diners. Traditionally, that kind of restaurant would mainly attract couples or groups, but in Taichung''s busy office district, the singleton is more and more ubiquitous. The restaurant aims to give people a relaxed space where they can enjoy their own company.

The space fills up with hungry customers every lunch and dinner. But look here: In the singles’ corner, you can grill your own meat and eat alone. If you burn the meat, nobody will point it out.

Customer

There are more and more social outsiders and singletons these days. Sometimes I feel lonely, but I think this loneliness is sometimes a joy too. It feels like being in conversation with myself.

Customer

After you finish work, you can come here and enjoy eating by yourself, and have a drink, and then go home. And then you feel very relaxed after the whole day.

This roast meat restaurant sits near Taichung’s 7th Redevelopment Zone, surrounding by a forest of office blocks. There are lots of potential customers in the area, with big wallets. Tens of thousands of office workers are flowing past as well, and this is a prime restaurant zone.

Customer

You don’t have to spend big money to get a couple’s set meal. You can come alone to have a single person’s roast.

Customer

There are screens too, so you don’t feel embarrassed there’s a big empty space next to you. So you feel quite safe with the divider screen.

The restaurant business is at the mercy of the ebbs and flows of COVID panic. We asked this seasoned restaurateur how to handle the ups and downs of these strange times. He says he’s not scared. Separating his customers like this is just like creating social distancing, and preventing large gatherings. At the same time, it attracts the single crowd, killing two birds with one stone.

Chang Kuang-tzu

Restaurant owner

You don’t have to be with a friend to go out for a meal. The customer might have suffered a slight today, or gotten a prize, so they come here to reward themselves. We want customers to be able to enjoy a little space where they belong to themselves.

Wang Sheng-chieh

Restaurant owner

At first glance, people take out their camera and take a photo for social media. I think the thing is making the arrangement beautiful so the customer can post photos online, which is a kind of alternative advert or marketing for us.

Restaurant owners Chang Kuang-tzu and Wang Sheng-chieh have been best friends since high school, and studied hospitality together at college. Both have many years in the industry and now they’re running a kitchen together. They focus on finding the best possible meat to carve out a space on Taichung’s restaurant scene.