NY Restaurant Figures Out Surprising Reason for Customer Complaints

Illustration for article titled NY Restaurant Figures Out Surprising Reason for Customer Complaints

The owners of a NYC restaurant were receiving far more complaints than they used to about the kitchen speed and quality of service, so they decided to go to surveillance tapes to figure out the issue. The answers, which they posted to Craigslist, were not what they expected.


The owners of the unnamed restaurant had noticed that online reviews (UGH) had pegged them for slow service/wait times. They, too, had noticed that customers appeared to be sitting longer than they used to, despite the expansion of the staff and the slimming down of the menu. Fortunately, they had surveillance tapes from 2004 and from 2014, so they could compare and contrast what had been and what was going on. The answers were mind-boggling, to say the least.

Here's a side-by-side cut of what they discovered:

2004: They gets [sic] seated and are given menus, out of 45 customers 3 request to be seated elsewhere.

2014: Customers get seated and is given menus, out of 45 customers 18 requested to be seated elsewhere.

2004: Customers on average spend 8 minutes before closing the menu to show they are ready to order.

2014: 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.

2004: Appetizers are fired within 6 minutes, obviously the more complex items take longer.

Out of 45 customers 2 sent items back.

2014: 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.

OK, I'm going to pause this right here to say: you are terrible, people who do this. Please just stop. Tom Haverford was created to mock you, not to be your glorious prophet, a beacon for the coming age of cheese sandwich pictures.

2004: After guests are done, the check delivered, and within 5 minutes they leave.

Average time from start to finish: 1:05

2014: 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

The restaurant ends the Craigslist posting with a plea for courtesy:

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?

It goes without saying that this might be (and probably is) entirely made up. There's literally no evidence other than a Craigslist posting, so yes, shout "FAKE" all you want, internet people — we're already well aware.

Still, for me and every other server I know, it lines up with experiential evidence — I can't count the number of times I had customers not eat their food for the first five minutes after it was at the table, then complain that it was cold. People bumping into other tables because they were looking at their phones is also ringing a familiar bell. Also, I swear to God every time I see someone take a picture of their food in a restaurant, I want to brain them with their plate.


Basically, I just really, really hate Instagram and want this to be true, even if it probably isn't.

Image via AnjelikaGr/Shutterstock.



I would say, based on my (granted, fairly limited) experience in a semi-high-end hotel restaurant with really cool decor, that the constant instagramming and picture taking definitely adds some time to the meal.

BUT these numbers—both time and number of people doing these activities—seem greatly exaggerated. 27 out of 45 customers ask for a group photo?! Unless this is that restaurant where people wear those weird paper hats with insults written on them (Dick's? I think that's what it's called) then I highly doubt that 2/3rds of customers are asking for a group photo—I'd peg it as 1 in 5, tops.

Also 26 of 45 customers spent an average of 3 minutes taking pictures of the food? 3 minutes is a long time. Most people (myself included, on a rare occasion) snap a picture or 2 and throw it up on instagram in 30 seconds.

18 of 45 request to be re-seated? Maybe this restaurant needs to having its heating or AC checked, because I never had to reseat half of my customers.

I feel like these incidents are all REALLY REALLY annoying and customers who act like this are jackholes— everyone in food service can clearly remember dealing with them many times, but it's not quite the epidemic this paints it to be. I'd be interested to see some more data on meal times in the instagram world, though.