Would you rather sit down to a table for one, or make small talk over a meal with a stranger?
For members of Invite For A Bite, the latter is a more appetizing choice. The new social-networking site ( inviteforabite.com) is designed for solo women to meet up with each other for mealtimes, so they don't have to suffer the stigma of dining alone.
"It's a problem I've had myself in the past," founder Cressida Howard says on the website. "Most women aren't comfortable going into a bar or restaurant on their own, especially in the evenings when they're surrounded by romantic couples, or drunk men with not very romantic intentions!"
The site seems to be gaining popularity among those tired of shovelling down bites between glances at their books, laptops and mobile phones. Since the Cheltenham, England-based site launched last month, it's attracted female members from around world, from Barcelona to New York to even Galle, Sri Lanka. The concept is similar to online dating or other meet-up sites. Those who sign up post invitations to meet, whether it's at a specific restaurant, over a meal at their own home or for a picnic in a park.
Ms. Howard says she came up with the idea after listening to a radio program about women who loved travelling by themselves, but who all agreed they hated eating solo. In some countries, it is taboo – and can even be dangerous – for women to be out alone, she noted in an interview with CNN.
But eating with strangers has its perils too. To deter some of the more obvious dining disasters, Invite For A Bite has posted a list of safety tips for meeting strangers in unfamiliar places, as well as dos and don'ts, like: "Don't forget to bring money to pay for a meal."
Not mentioned, however, is the risk of losing your appetite from watching your new meal-mate chew with her mouth open or enduring her rudeness to wait staff. If this happens, you can always indulge in a more satisfying snack later. Alone.