Restaurant Owner’s Craigslist Rant Says Instagram Destroys His Business

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Gotta get it juuust right. Photo: Shutterstock

Owners of an anonymous "Busy NYC Restaurant" in midtown that happens to be popular with "both tourists and locals alike" were baffled by constant complaints about slow service, so they hired a consultant to do some Willie Degel–style detective work, and allegedly compared camera footage from ten years ago to today's in an attempt to glean some nuggets of wisdom. An irate employee put the results up in a Craigslist "rants & raves" post, since flagged for removal but posted in its entirety here. The blame, it turns out, has been put squarely on smartphones and their users.

As always with anonymous, un-peer-reviewed study data, get the salt ready, but here's the writer on the 2004 diners:

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.

Food starts getting delivered within 6 minutes, obviously the more complex items take way longer.

Out of 45 customers 2 sent items back that where too cold we assume (given they were not steak we assume they wanted the item heated up more).

Waiters keep an eye out for their tables so they can respond quickly if the customer needs something.

Customers are done, check delivered, and within 5 minutes they leave.

Average time from start to finish: 1:05

The 2014 footage showed this:

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

Yes, basically an extra 100 percent longer — but is any of this real? If it's not a hoax, this is some real NSA-level scrutiny of 90 restaurant customers. Critics point out that the rant might really just be a "generalized complaint" fluffed up with data, while others are dubious of the 18 percent collision rate and five minutes required to snap a group photo. Whatever the details, it seems that a consensus is building that excessive smartphone use in restaurants is becoming some premier first-world plague, which is why we really hope Applebee's does have a plan to save us all.

Restaurant Finds Phone Zombies Slow Down Service, Keep Taking Photos [Gothamist]
Related: Applebee's Wants to Ban Smartphones on Tuesdays