As part of the "Get OmarGone's Groove Back" project, my therapist has instructed me to go out to a fairly popular neighborhood restaurant by myself (to start circulating, get a regular hang-out spot, to lessen my self-consciousness about eating in public, etc.) before our next session. Under my irresponsible first therapist I developed some kind of anxiety about eating out alone & waiting for people in restaurants, so I haven't gone to a restaurant by myself in decades.

That anxiety has pretty much waned, but I feel clueless about how to behave and I felt like an idiot asking my therapist: where do you look without seeming like you are staring at people? Is it acceptable to take a book to a restaurant or bar? How do you become that kind of regular where people know you? How do you make friends with a bartender or waiter? Doesn't it annoy them to have people chatting them up while they are trying to work?