Willie Geist

Would you dine out solo? Now you don't have to

April 24, 2012 at 11:19 AM ET

David De Lossy / Getty Images /

What’s the latest crisis that needs solving? Women are eating alone at restaurants – and they don’t like it.

At least that’s what Cressida Howard, founder of Invite For a Bite, contends. Her website helps women who are out and about, be it for business or leisure, connect with other women so they don’t get stuck alone at restaurants, pretending to be on the phone or staring longingly at the happy couples around them.

And who wants to deal with the pitying “Just one?” response from the restaurant host? Rochelle Peachey, a founder of the dating site I Love Your Accent, told CNN, "I detest walking into a restaurant to request the dreaded table for one. When I walk into a restaurant or bar alone, I feel others see me as either a woman out to pick up men or a sad, lonely spinster."

In contrast, men don’t face any stigma when they eat alone, Peachey believes. But at least one man, NBC's Willie Geist, disagrees.

“I can’t do it,” said Geist, who was guest-hosting the fourth hour of TODAY Tuesday with Hoda Kotb. “I can’t go sit by myself... at a nice restaurant to sit there and sort of stare at the wall, people start to think that you’re a drifter or something, like you’re going to run out on the bill.”

But alas, Invite For a Bite is just for women, because Howard wanted to distinguish the site from the plethora of online dating sites.

“This is simply not what most women want when they are traveling on business,” Howard told CNN. “They simply want to unwind and have a bit of a laugh or a chat with another woman without worrying that it might be taken the wrong way or that they are putting themselves at risk."

Would you or do you dine out alone? Do women have it worse? Have you ever faced stigma eating solo?

Vidya Rao is a TODAY.com editor who doesn't mind eating solo -- especially when she's having a fat day and doesn't want to share.