Technology Makes Our Lives Better, But Not When Dining Out

Business / Editorial
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Technology really is great.  I’m writing on a Technology blog, so you can safely assume that I appreciate tech at least as much (and probably more-so) than the next guy.  With that being said, it’s somewhat startling to see just how much technology can affect something as simple as going out for dinner.  A New York City restaurant recently posted a rant on Craigslist (which has since been marked for removal) about some of the negative aspects of technology as it relates to your meal.

The restaurant, which described themselves as a popular spot for both locals and tourists, started noticing a lot of negative reviews coming in, specifically relating to wait times and service speed.  The restaurant was confused as they’ve had a similar number of guests as they’ve had in the past, and have even increased workers and decreased menu items.  They chose to hire a firm to get to the bottom of the complaints.  The restaurant has a surveillance system, so they were able to compare a similar set of transactions from 2004, and 2014.

Dining Out – 2004:

  • Customers walk in.
  • They gets seated and are given menus, out of 45 customers 3 request to be seated elsewhere.
  • Customers on average spend 8 minutes before closing the menu to show they are ready to order.
  • Waiters shows up almost instantly takes the order.
  • Appetizers are fired within 6 minutes, obviously the more complex items take longer.
  • Out of 45 customers 2 sent items back.
  • Waiters keep an eye out for their tables so they can respond quickly if the customer needs something.
  • After guests are done, the check delivered, and within 5 minutes they leave.

Average time from start to finish: 1:05



Now compare 2004 with what they found in 2014.

Dining Out – 2014:

  • Customers walk in.
  • Customers get seated and is given menus, out of 45 customers 18 requested to be seated elsewhere.
  • Before even opening the menu they take their phones out, some are taking photos while others are simply doing something else on their phone (sorry we have no clue what they are doing and do not monitor customer WIFI activity).
  • 7 out of the 45 customers had waiters come over right away, they showed them something on their phone and spent an average of 5 minutes of the waiter’s time. Given this is recent footage, we asked the waiters about this and they explained those customers had a problem connecting to the WIFI and demanded the waiters try to help them.
  • Finally the waiters are walking over to the table to see what the customers would like to order. The majority have not even opened the menu and ask the waiter to wait a bit.
  • Customer opens the menu, places their hands holding their phones on top of it and continue doing whatever on their phone.
  • Waiter returns to see if they are ready to order or have any questions. The customer asks for more time.
  • Finally they are ready to order.
  • Total average time from when the customer was seated until they placed their order 21 minutes.
  • Food starts getting delivered within 6 minutes, obviously the more complex items take way longer.
  • 26 out of 45 customers spend an average of 3 minutes taking photos of the food.
  • 14 out of 45 customers take pictures of each other with the food in front of them or as they are eating the food. This takes on average another 4 minutes as they must review and sometimes retake the photo.
  • 9 out of 45 customers sent their food back to reheat. Obviously if they didn’t pause to do whatever on their phone the food wouldn’t have gotten cold.
  • 27 out of 45 customers asked their waiter to take a group photo. 14 of those requested the waiter retake the photo as they were not pleased with the first photo. On average this entire process between the chit chatting and reviewing the photo taken added another 5 minutes and obviously caused the waiter not to be able to take care of other tables he/she was serving.
  • Given in most cases the customers are constantly busy on their phones it took an average of 20 minutes more from when they were done eating until they requested a check. Furthermore once the check was delivered it took 15 minutes longer than 10 years ago for them to pay and leave.
  • 8 out of 45 customers bumped into other customers or in one case a waiter (texting while walking) as they were either walking in or out of the Restaurant.

Average time from start to finish: 1:55



Nearly an hour difference, mainly due to the customers diddling with their phones.  I can say from personal experience that I see this sort of thing all the time.  I don’t know if that’s resulted in an increase in complaints at local establishments, but the behavior is not unique to NYC.  Unfortunately it’s inconsiderate no matter where it happens.  Servers normally make most of their money on tips.  They make the most money when tables turn over – i.e. when one party leaves and another is seated.  Unless you’re the only party in the restaurant, or at a fast food establishment chances are very good that you are costing your server money by wasting time staring at your phone.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t enjoy yourself while you are out to eat, far from it!  But there’s a huge difference between enjoying yourself as part of the dining experience and staring blankly at your phone while you happen to be at a restaurant.



I’ve heard of “games” where everybody at a table will put their phones face down, and the first to break and look at their phone pays the bill.  That idea works great in theory, though probably not so well in practice.  We’re all pretty well tethered to our phones, and the desire to peek is pretty much always present.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again now: Technology is great.  But like most everything, there’s a time and a place for it.  I’m going to sound like an old man shooing the kids off of the lawn here, but can’t we just enjoy the occasional break from technology?  Especially when we’re out to eat with our friends? Your dining partners may not be as interesting as everything else in the entirety of the world that you can glean from your phone, but give them a chance.  Maybe you can just talk about technology over a nice meal rather than staring at technology.

I’ll bet your food will taste just as good (probably even better) if you don’t stop to take a picture of it too.

  Source: Distractify  Via: LifeBuzz

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