HI I read through your post and wonder what new developments you have had. I was in Artisinal the other week and assumed that the two large groups eating there were either on a business dinner or a dining group (hard to get reservations there for 8 or more and this was a Sunday night). My issue with the large groups is that service tends to bottom out at over 6 people. I want to have people to meet up with but want to limit the size. Any information you find out will be helpful.
People do eat out alone a lot in Manhattan and at some of the harder places to get in.