Sunday 2 September is Father’s Day. In Australia, Father’s Day is celebrated on the first Sunday in September. This is a day of celebrating all the “dads” in your life… your father, stepfather, uncles, grandfathers, even big brothers.
By Jeremy Ryland
The concept of “Father’s Day” was established in America in 1909 when Sonora Dodd petitioned to have a special day to celebrate fatherhood. Sonora’s father, William Smart, was left to raise six children when his wife died during childbirth. Sonora thought of the idea whilst listening to a Mother’s Day sermon and wanted to recognise the parental sacrifices of fathers like her dad, whom she described as courageous, selfless and loving.
Father’s Day was eventually officially recognised in the USA, in 1972, by presidential proclamation from President Nixon. Father’s Day is now celebrated around the world, although on different days – the third Sunday in June in many countries: St Joseph’s Day (19 March) in some Christian countries and on the first Sunday of September in Australia. It is a time to say a special “thank you” to dad for all the good times, the wise words and the sacrifices he has given.
Sonora Dodd wanted to celebrate her father, who was a widower. Father’s Day holds a special place in the hearts of single dads, a demographic that is on the rise. In the 2016 Census, there were 959 000 single-parent families in Australia – of which about 20 per cent were single fathers.
Did you know that one quarter, 25 per cent, of households in Australia are today single person households – an increase of 300 per cent since the 1950’s. And that has also increased the number of solo diners.
Until recently, dining out in restaurants alone in Australia was relatively rare. Solo diners were travelling salespeople, overseas business travellers or food critics!
Today, more and more diners are eating alone – and it is important that restaurants cater for this growing market. The Dimmi booking group estimate that solo reservations have risen 27% this year alone. And solo diners generally eat earlier: 6 - 7 pm is the most popular time according to Dimmi. Today’s solo diners are interested in the food and often have the time to indulge themselves - so don’t hurry them out. They may bring a book and their smartphone – but they also want to enjoy the experience.
To cater for solo diners, don’t seat them in corners or between large groups. Some diners may want privacy but many more will enjoy interacting with the staff, being told about the menu, the produce, the techniques etc. If possible, you can offer seatings at a bar or overlooking the theatre of the kitchen, where they can talk to the staff. If your menu is designed to share, consider offering half or smaller portions. Spend a little more time with them if you can. Help them to enjoy the experience. Solo diners may not be food critics – but because they are interested in the food and focused on the restaurant (instead of their colleagues), they are powerful influencers who will tell their colleagues and friends. So make them feel special, give them samples to try. And solo diners are more loyal and more likely to come back if they are welcomed. They can be important to your venue.
And remember not to forget the important people in your life. Don’t let dad dine on his own! Make Father’s Day, Sunday 2 September, a special day to relax, enjoy a wonderful meal and let dad know how much you appreciate him. Better still, tell him every day!