Restaurant Says Smartphones, Not Lazy Staff, Are To Blame For Slow Service

Does it feel like you’re spending an inordinate amount of time sitting at the restaurant table before you actually eat? The tendency might be to blame it on bad service or a slow kitchen, but one NYC restaurant points the finger at customers’ smartphone obsession.

Distractify [via Eater] recently wrote about a since-deleted CraigsList rant from an anonymous Gotham eatery that says its research shows that service hasn’t gotten worse in the last decade; it’s the customers who are slowing things down.

According to the restaurant, in the hope of finding out just how its service had slipped in the last decade, it dug up old in-store surveillance tapes from July 1, 2004 and compared them to footage from July 3, 2014 to compare.

The two days had the same amount of business, and the waiters and kitchen are still seating and serving customers at the same speed, but the CraigsList poster says customer behavior has changed in multiple ways:

In 2004, only three of 45 customers asked to be reseated upon entering. In 2014, that number jumped to 18 out of 45.

In 2004, customers averaged 8 minutes before indicating they were ready to order. In 2014, the rant claims that diners now spend minutes taking photos, using their smartphones and asking wait staff about in-restaurant WiFi service before they even crack open the menu. This all results in an average of 21 minutes before customers order.

Ten years ago, it was virtually unheard of to take photos of your food at the table. But the restaurant says 26 of the 45 customers in 2014 wasted an average of three minutes snapping pics of their food before eating. Then there were the 14 customers who posed with friends and food for photos, passing around the camera for approval and possible reshoots. Tack on another 4 minutes for that.

Even after the meal, customers get lost in doing stuff on their phones, explains the unnamed eatery. This adds to both the time between eating and requesting the check, and the time between getting the check and actually leaving.

In total, all this added up to a 2014 average of 1 hour, 55 minutes per table. That’s 50 minutes longer than the 1 hour, 5 minute average in 2004.