For the first time in a long time, I’m taking two weeks off. From work, from blogging, and mostly from e-mail. I have a family reunion at the beach next week, followed by a week at a gaming conference. I’ll have limited internet access the whole time, and frankly, it’s important for me to focus on my family while I’m at the beach and my customers while I’m at the convention. So I’m going to be gone for a little while, but I’ll be back, and I hope you come back too. Here’s my last blog entry for a while:
If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant as I did for a few summers during college, I think you’ll find this particularly interesting.
An expensive restaurant noticed that their service had slowed considerably over the last few years, and reviews on sites like Yelp were particularly vocal about it. The restaurant couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was going on, so they hired a consultant to review interior surveillance footage from 2004 to compare it to similar footage in 2014 to see what they found.
I’d recommend checking out the “article” (it’s more of an infographic) to see the full data, but here are the key parts from those two time periods that made the biggest difference. The data reflects the various stages starting when guests enter the restaurant and ending when they leave. (The following includes exact quotes from the article.)
- Customers on average spend 8 minutes before closing the menu to show they are ready to order.
- Blah blah blah, they eat, pay the check…average time from start to finish: 1:05
- Before opening the menu, most customers take their phone and and do…stuff (the restaurant doesn’t monitor what they’re doing).
- 7 out of the 45 customers in the footage asked waiters to come over to help them. The waiters then spend an average of 5 minutes helping those customers connect to the WiFi.
- Customers continue to fiddle with their phones until they finally place their order. Average time before closing the menu: 21 minutes.
- When food arrives, 26 our of 45 customers spend an average of 3 minutes taking photos of their food. 14 customers take photos of each other with the food. This takes an average of 4 additional minutes.
- 27 out of 45 customers asked the waiter to take a group photo with their camera phones. Then, 14 of those customers asked the waiter to retake the photo. This whole process adds another 5 minutes to the meal.
- 8 out of 45 customers bumped into other customers or waiters while walking out of the restaurant because they were texting.
- Average time from start to finish: 1:55
Okay. Deep breath. What the hell is happening to us as a society?!
Let me say this first: There’s nothing wrong with taking your time at a restaurant. When I go out to eat, I don’t like to feel rushed. I like to enjoy the company, and I don’t need much attention from the servers other than to take my order, deliver my food, and make sure my drink is full. I tip extremely well, mostly because I was a server and I know how much they put into their work.
I’m feeling a few things here. The first thing is that I’m sad that when people come together to spend lots of money on good food at this restaurant, they spend more time looking at their phones than looking at each other.
I don’t quite know what to feel about taking photos of food. I’ve done it, and I would definitely do it if I’m spending $40 on a filet that looks awesome. I don’t text or look at fantasy stats or e-mail or any of that when I’m at a restaurant, though. It just seems rude to everyone around me, including the restaurant.
But the wifi? The group photos? Is that all part of the restaurant experience now? Is that part of a server’s job? If so, I sure hope those people are tipping extra, because those servers are going above the call of duty.
There’s something unsettling about this data. What do you think? Are you bothered by it? Do you spend a lot of time on your phone when you go out to eat?