Single-person dining capsules turn meal time into me time with some nice amenities.

In Japan, casual western-style restaurants, like Denny’s, for example, are called “family restaurants.” Despite the name, though, some of family restaurants’ most frequent customers are people who dine alone.

Family restaurants have large portions, low prices, and stay open until well-past midnight, if not 24 hours. That makes them popular with students and young adults, many of whom don’t have the time, energy, or skills to cook for themselves, especially if they’re starving after a long day of school or work. As a matter of fact, family restaurant chain Gusto gets so many solo customers that they’ve started installing single-person semi-private dining boxes in their restaurants.

At first glance, this might look like another example of modern Japan’s painful shyness, since the dining capsules basically make it so that you can eat your meal without the risk of even accidentally making eye contact with another human being. But it turns out there’s actually a few entirely different reasons why some customers love these single-person booths.

As mentioned above, family restaurants are particularly popular with students and young workers, and many of them use them as study lounges or offices for mobile, online jobs. It’s sort of like working on a project at Starbucks, except that these studious/creative types have access to a full food menu, as well as all sorts of beverage options, including soda and beer, that they wouldn’t in a coffeehouse. Speaking of drinks, family restaurants are some of the only eateries in Japan that offer unlimited refills for their entire soft drink menu, which makes them a budget-friendly option if you’re going to be staying long enough to feel thirsty more than once.

Gusto also has free Wi-Fi, and its single-person dining boxes have multiple power outlets to keep your electrical devices topped up.

And of course, the high walls help keep customers from feeling self-conscious about extended lingering, while also providing some extra privacy for anyone typing out emails or working on documents they’d rather not have nosy strangers sneaking a peek at.

Honestly, between the free Wi-Fi, power outlets, and the fact that family restaurant menus have tons of pictures that make it easy to order by pointing, Gusto’s single-person box seats are also a great option for anyone traveling across Japan who wants to multi-task fueling up their body and phone.

Currently, the solo seats can be found at Gusto’s Tokyo branches in Akasaka Mitsuke, Azabujuban, Hatagaya, Higashi Ikebukuro, Kameari Station North Exit, Kichijoji, Medai-mae, Mito Keio Daigaku-mae, and Shinbashi.

Related: Gusto location list
Sources: Corobuzz, Jin, Tanemaki

Featured image: Twitter/@YYYFFF
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