A popular New York City restaurant recently hired a firm to investigate why they continually kept receiving such bad reviews for slow service. Once the results came in they were shocked by what they discovered. They then decided to rant about it on Craiglist (content has since been removed from Craiglist), comparing footage from 2004 to footage from 2014.
This is what they posted:
We are a popular restaurant for both locals and tourists alike. Having been in business for many years, we noticed that although the number of customers we serve on a daily basis is almost the same today as it was 10 years ago, the service just seems super slow even though we added more staff and cut back on the menu items…
One of the most common complaints on review sites against us and many restaurants in the area is that the service was slow and/or they needed to wait a bit long for a table.
We decided to hire a firm to help us solve this mystery, and naturally the first thing they blamed it on was that the employees need more training and that maybe the kitchen staff is just not up to the task of serving that many customers.
Like most restaurants in NYC we have a surveillance system, and unlike today where it’s a digital system, 10 years ago we still used special high capacity tapes to record all activity. At any given time we had 4 special Sony systems recording multiple cameras. We would store the footage for 90 days just in case we needed it for something.
The firm we hired suggested we locate some of the older tapes and analyze how the staff behaved 10 years ago versus how they behave now. We went down to our storage room but we couldn’t find any tapes at all.
We did find the recording devices, and luckily for us, each device has 1 tape in it that we simply never removed when we upgraded to the new digital system!
The date stamp on the old footage was Thursday July 1, 2004. The restaurant was very busy that day. We loaded up the footage on a large monitor, and next to it on a separate monitor loaded up the footage of Thursday July 3 2014, with roughly the same amount of customers as ten years before.
I will quickly outline the findings. We carefully looked at over 45 transactions in order to determine the data below:
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
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
We are grateful for everyone who comes into our restaurant, after all there are so many choices out there. But can you please be a bit more considerate?
A web series that peeks into the lives of servers and bartenders working in a restaurant in Chicago.
See more episodes from The Restaurant HERE
1. I CAN’T READ MINDS
If you want something TELL ME. If you have an allergy COMMUNICATE that to me. If you don’t like your food SPEAK UP.
2. DON’T TELL ME YOU ARE READY WHEN YOU ARE NOT.
When you tell me you are ready I assume that you are going to know what you want. Instead of making me stand there while you decide, ask me to come back. I don’t have all day. You are not the only customer here.
3. I’M HUMAN.
Shocker! I sometimes make mistakes.
4. TELL ME AHEAD OF TIME.
If you need extras or sides that doesn’t bug me. What bugs me is when you ask for something every time I visit your table. Ask for everything up front. It saves me time!
5. BE COURTEOUS.
When I begin to introduce myself and you cut me off with your drink order…that’s extremely rude. Common courtesy…try it sometime.
6. I’M NOT YOUR DOG.
Do not snap your fingers at me or touch me when you need something.
7. WAIT YOUR TURN.
Do not interrupt me for something when I’m taking another table’s order.
8. EXTRA MEANS EXTRA.
If you want something “extra” it’s probably going to cost extra. That’s how things work. Someone has to pay for it. It’s not my rule and I’m definitely not going to risk my job for your $.50 side of ranch.
9. DON’T BLAME ME FOR THE PRICES.
Do you think I came up with these prices myself? I have nothing to do with the prices, so don’t take it out on me. In order to avoid being shocked when you get your bill you should pay attention to those special little numbers on the menu. 😉
10. IF YOU WALK IN WITH A BAD ATTITUDE, YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE A BAD TIME.
It’s not my fault that you had to wait forever to be sat at a table. No one forced you to wait so don’t make me suffer because you are impatient.
11. I’M NOT A MIRACLE WORKER.
No I can’t make your well-done steak cook faster.
12. CALM DOWN.
If something is wrong with your order just tell me and I will take care of you. There is no need to flip out on me and make a scene…that’s not going to solve anything. It’s only going to make you look like a prick.
13. DON’T CAMP OUT.
If you are going to camp out at your table for hours after you eat AT LEAST leave more of a tip. You are taking money away from your server by taking up a table that another paying customer could be sitting at.
14. BE PATIENT.
If you have to wait for a table, understand that the wait time you are given is an ESTIMATE. We can’t magically make a table appear for you to sit at. The customers sitting at the table actually have to leave in order for us to sit you at their table. And NO we are not going to ask them to leave for you…would you be okay with that if we did it to you?
15. BE PLEASANT.
Yes there are horrible servers and excellent servers out there. But don’t judge all servers based on one bad experience you had. Most of us are doing the best we can and want you to enjoy your time while you are at our restaurant. We aren’t all lazy and aren’t going to spit in your food if you send it back. We are just doing our jobs in order to pay our bills and make a living. We are hard workers and deserve respect just like everyone else. If you want a pleasant experience you can start off by BEING PLEASANT!
16. KNOW YOUR ALLERGIES. PLAN AHEAD.
No I do not know more about your allergy than you do. I am happy to help you find a good option on our menu or ask our chef any questions you may have. But don’t get pissed at me if I don’t know every single ingredient in every single dish at the top of my head. It may take time to find this stuff out. A good rule of thumb…do your research AHEAD of time before visiting the restaurant.
17. THIS IS MY “REAL JOB”.
Don’t ask me what my “real” job is. Last time I checked I wasn’t making monopoly money or paying fake bills. I work my ass off and just because I don’t work a 9 to 5 sitting at an office desk doesn’t mean I don’t work just as hard, if not harder, than you.
18. I WILL GET TO YOU WHEN I CAN.
Just because it doesn’t “look” like I’m busy doesn’t mean I’m not. We are trained to stay as calm as possible no matter how busy or stressed we are. So you have no idea what may be be going on behind the scenes. If I don’t get you your extra napkin within .02 seconds perhaps you should consider I have 376 other requests to fulfill before I get to yours. I will get you your precious napkin as soon as I physically can.
19. NO I’M NOT GOING TO “HOOK YOU UP”.
I don’t care if you know the owner. I don’t know you and I’m surely not going to risk my job for you.
20. CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR KIDS.
If your kid pukes in the restaurant don’t expect your server (you know, the person who is handling your FOOD) to clean it up. It’s YOUR kid therefore it’s YOUR responsibility to clean up after them!
21. I DON’T WANT YOUR MAN.
Ladies, if you are out to eat with your boyfriend/husband and you are being served by a waitress, realize that your server is there to make money, not steal your man. Just because you are insecure doesn’t mean you have to hate me for acknowledging your significant other.
22. DON’T BE A STEREOTYPE.
If you don’t like stereotypes, STOP BEING ONE!
23. TELL ME YOU DON’T TIP AHEAD OF TIME.
If you don’t plan on tipping before you even sit down at a table, let your server know ahead of time. That way they can adjust their service and not waste their time catering to you for free. 🙂
24. IT’S NOT ALWAYS MY FAULT WHEN THINGS GO WRONG.
Look at the WHOLE picture when deciding what to tip. I had no control over your wait. It’s not my fault when we run out of things. I didn’t make the food…
25. MY JOB IS NOT EASY.
There is a lot more to my job than taking orders. My job takes a lot of multitasking skills, patience, stamina, etc. It is a lot more challenging than you may think. Until you have been in my shoes do not assume you know what it is like.
Stay classy, be nice, and don’t forget to tip! 😉
“Strawberry Lemonade” – Bret Earnst – Comics Without Borders
Bret Ernst discusses how different ethnicities order food.