DineAbility Busy NYC Restaurant Solves Major Mystery by Reviewing Old Surveillance

Busy NYC Restaurant Solves Major Mystery by Reviewing Old Surveillance

A recent Craigslist post has proven to be an eye opener about how the behavior of restaurant goers has changed over the years. The restaurant was trying to figure out why their service had slowed so much over a 10 year period of time - you'll be surprised by what they found after reviewing their old surveillance tapes.

From the Craigslist Post:

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 customer's we serve on a daily basis is almost the same today as it was 10 years ago, the service just seems super slow even thou we added lot's 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 need 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 real busy that day. We loaded up the footage on a large size monitor, and next to it on a separate monitor loaded up the footage of Thursday July 3 2014, the amount of customers where only a bit more than 10 years prior.

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.

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

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?

Original Post: http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/rnr/4562386373.html

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    • Isaac
      July 13, 2014 at 21:34

      I call b.s. It's probably fabricated and certainly unscientific. And to chastise your customers for not being focused on your time constraints enough? Ludicrous. Customers should enjoy their dining experience no matter how they pass the time spending money in your establishment.

    • Dan
      July 14, 2014 at 01:20

      Europeans tend to relax and socialize during a meal. They usually spend at least two hours for dinner. If you are an upset restauranteur because customers take more than an hour; you are in the wrong business. Please stop rushing us through.

  1. Chris
    July 12, 2014 at 03:39

    What an interesting, revealing and entirely fictional article. Thanks author!

    • Chum Lee Jr
      July 12, 2014 at 21:03

      My first thought, too. The Onion does far better, and at least we KNOW they are B.S.ing us.

    • Steven
      July 13, 2014 at 01:26

      Why do you say it is entirely fictional?

    • Name :
      July 13, 2014 at 17:30

      And here we see the Average American, declaring something to be a work of fiction because it probably pertains to his own behavior and, therefore, offends him.

    • Gabby
      July 15, 2014 at 21:47

      You clearly haven't worked in a restaurant before. I saw the craigslist ad, it was legit. Also, you're probably one of those annoying phone-never-out-of-hand people

  2. Snurt
    July 12, 2014 at 06:19

    Clearly you need to make your wifi network easier to connect to.

  3. Laura
    July 12, 2014 at 11:26

    I think this is a pretty cool observation. I am confused about the ambiguous question at the end of the article. They also spent the time observing an extensive amount of footage, but never further commented on their plans, a resolution or an inquiry to help them resolve the situation. Their focus (if I am correct in interpreting the intention of the question at the end) is about customers who walk into waiters while texting and walking. This should not be their focus, and tells me they may not have the skills to resolve the problem. They need to focus on catering to the customer, and of course fixing their wifi connection issues. Maybe they should put directions inside the menu. Change the menu to cater to the iPhone/android user. Maybe change the menu to have barcodes to scan. The customer could get calorie information, pictures, etc. this would make the menu more interactive and draw the attention of the cell phone user toward the menu. The title states the mystery was solved, which would imply there was a solution. There is no solution spoken too in the article. Maybe this information here will help them get started. Again, this is pretty fascinating, but the hardest part is the work ahead of them.

    • Professional Suck Up (I mean waiter)
      July 12, 2014 at 14:25

      Obviously you have never worked in the industry.

    • Thomas J.
      July 12, 2014 at 14:31

      Or... and I know this is a HUGE inconvenience to people and could be way out there. How about people put down their phones and enjoy life? The restaurant should remove their wifi, and ban the use of phones (pictures) while at the tables. Be social! I know right?! Who wants to do that? I mean, you're just in public with other people, so why would you not look them in the eye and idk, talk. People are becoming so irrational anymore.

      • Kip
        July 12, 2014 at 16:02

        Here, here! And I've been both a waiter and a client. The best dining experiences always involve the analogue food and people in the here and now, and have nothing to do with the there and then on which the phone is digitally focusing – on somewhere other than here, and on someone other then the real-time, tangible (and increasingly cold) food and people in front of one. Einstein was on point; this article proves it (as do many responses posted like "they should fix their WiFi").

        • ken
          July 15, 2014 at 15:16

          Sure, but all that talking and enjoying is taking time away from other customers! Clearly we need to ban socializing in restaurants, think of the time savings!

      • Zach
        July 12, 2014 at 17:32

        Banning phones sounds pretty irrational to me. The solution is simple: get a better router, or do away with public wifi entirely. Also, why did 18 people ask to be seated elsewhere? Did the restaurant remodel? That's a BIG difference, and re-seating all of those people probably accounts for WAY more time than people on their phones.

        • Thomas J.
          July 12, 2014 at 19:59

          You're completely missing the point. the solution isn't to get a better router. the solution is to return to the idea of dinning. Unplug and enjoy the experience. Instead of chatting, uploading, taking pictures, and tweeting. A lot is lost while tapping away at a screen. Being re-seated only takes a minute or two. Playing on your phone while the waiter is waiting for you to make up your mind and then wasting time while playing on your phone allowing your food to get cold takes up far more time. Point is, our society has become socially inept. We don't know how to interact with each other face to face. Everything needs to be through social media, which I argue actually makes us less social. Banning phones from the dinner table isn't irrational. It's actually quite rational. It returns humanity back to being socially interactive. If you suggest otherwise, you're part of the problem and you don't even know it. Sad really.

          • Nyaneve
            July 13, 2014 at 05:03

            Thomas J. can I hug you? I completely agree. Zach, they asked to be moved thinking they could get more 'bars' better wifi service which I think totally rediculous. Put down the phone a be social face to face in real time!

          • Wade W
            July 13, 2014 at 18:55

            @Thomas J you sound old

        • Lars
          July 13, 2014 at 21:31

          My guess is they wanted to be seated elsewhere hoping their wifi signal got better.

      • dabble53
        July 14, 2014 at 00:20

        I dumped my bf when he couldn't stop texting is friends/buddies/co-workers while we were having dinner at a restaurant. Guess I was too boring for him, so I put him out of his misery. Face it, all that texting, picture sending, etc. on the phone when you are at dinner is just plain RUDE.

    • svh
      July 12, 2014 at 15:06

      Hi Laura, I find very insightful what you had written. I totally agree. I would also like to add that there could even be an app to reserve talbles and order food, of course the app should also work while not yet inside the restaurant, and it should show which tables are currently available and can be reserved, etc. To take the idea of interactive menu with fotos and calories of the food further, it should of course highlight where the ingredients come from, especially if they come from a farmer from the region. Also there should be an interactive display of what meals take currently how long to make, and what meals are not available anymore...

      • BP
        July 13, 2014 at 13:58

        svh is closer to the solution than the naysayers. Customer needs are changing and trying to force the old model on customers OBVIOUSLY ISN'T HELPING. You have observed what the customer wants when they go to a restaurant, so make use of that information. Provide information that the "phone-using" customer can use to improve their experience or don't complain that all of these customers using their phone aren't happy. You could have one or two people who are dedicated to helping with wifi or taking photos float around tables during peak periods to take the pressure off wait staff. You could research WHY people wanted to move tables, was it too cold or was it the wifi reception? You either have to adapt to your customer's needs or don't whine when they leave. People are being "super-social" - sharing their experience with people who aren't at the table with them, and that is the way things are. Open your eyes people.

    • np
      July 12, 2014 at 15:25

      Did this really go over your head? People are complaining about slow service, that is what prompted this research. Why are they complaining about slow service? Because the restaurant staff is inattentive or too busy or too lazy? No. People are complaining about slow service because other guests are throwing sticks in service spokes. It's not intentional, it's not malicious, but they're doing it all the same. If you ask for another table, the hostess has to rearrange the rotation of servers. Maybe you just asked to be sat in a section where a waiter just got sat. Now he's got to greet two tables, get two drink orders, etc. Maybe you know how to use your phone, but that table doesn't. Now he has to repeat the WiFi password over and over. You're mad because you want a drink. The server whose station you were supposed to sit in is twidling her thumbs. Finally he makes it over to the table you wanted and you ask for a cocktail. He knows you've been waiting so he rushes to the bartender to get your drink. The bartender is remaking someone else's drinks because they got sent back. There's tickets already printed and waiting to get filled before the one with your order on it. You have to wait another five minutes before he makes it back to your table. You're pissed but not ready to order. His other table has a question and he's happy to answer, but then their appetizers come and they ask him to take a picture of them. Wait now they need some obscure condiment. Meanwhile you're ready to order and he's taking FOREVER. That's with two tables. Imagine four or five. The point of the article isn't just the WiFi, it's that more food is getting sent back, people are taking longer to order, asking for tables outside the section they're "meant" to be in more often, and too distracted by their phones to order, eat, or pay in a timely fashion. Sure, it's the service industry. They're supposed to wait on you. You and everyone else. They want you to have a good dining experience, just like they want the rest of the crowded restaurant to. But all the distractions and issues that the wait staff is dealing with compound to longer wait times at the door, longer times for drinks and food, and longer times for one table to sit in their real estate. Food prices are rising and margins are thinning. Why else would restaurants be doing stuff like "technology free tuesdays?" Some places won't allow Instagram sharing or Google Glass. What other choices do they have, really? Oh, they can invest in an app to tell you all about the food when you scan an ugly barcode in their menu. Surely that will cost less time and money! Not like it will simply give customers an additional way to become distracted. Not like app development is cheap. Not like updating and debugging apps is cheap. I don't know what the solution is, either. But if you do any of those things, you're a part of the problem. For the business and for other customers.

      • Cuppa Joe
        July 13, 2014 at 14:09

        Love it when someone speaks with commonsense . . .

      • Mike
        July 15, 2014 at 17:34

        Very simple solution, before anyone, anyone is allowed to dine out they should by law be required to work at a restaurant for six months. Problem would be solved very quickly...

      • LC
        July 15, 2014 at 20:48

        I could not have said it any better, np! As a service-based business owner myself, I have personally observed a noticeable change in customer attitudes these last few years; attitudes that have struck me as increasingly self-absorbed, inconsiderate of staff, and self-entitled. My observations are purely anecdotal and I do not have any proof, but my opinion is that the newer generation of consumers within the last decade, may have a different value system and approach to their world that also plays a part in this dynamic between service providers and the customer, not just in the restaurant business, but in all commerce. Social media has enabled many, but especially those who grew up with it, to be less empathetic. Again, this is strictly one person's opinion in the broadest of terms, based upon my own direct and sometimes indirect experiences.

    • Jane
      July 12, 2014 at 16:14

      This is hilarious! Even funnier than stuff I read in the article! You're a hoot!

    • michael
      July 12, 2014 at 19:57

      U r an idiot.its a restaurant not a WiFi spot

    • Eric
      July 12, 2014 at 20:55

      You're not too smart, are ya?

    • Carlos
      July 13, 2014 at 00:09

      "Mystery" implies the unknown. Now that it's known it is no longer a mystery. Mystery solved. That's not the same as problem identified and solved, which seems to be what you think the title is telling us.

    • Lauren
      July 13, 2014 at 03:52

      What about ban wi-fi and photo ordering create a section of customer that are hungry and a section that are not...or post a sign no phone permitted. i think this is better than your suggestions to speed up the service or ask customers not to sit until they finish their chit chat bullshit

    • lauren
      July 13, 2014 at 04:03

      *You want to have dinner with us please don't bring your phone simple solution. Or be kind to others don't use your phone and take pictures outside the restaurant*

    • CEG
      July 13, 2014 at 17:04

      Are you kidding? I am assuming this is a tongue-in-cheek comment, but I'm not sure, you seem so sincere. You just pointed out numerous ways to stretch out the customer's visit even longer!!! It's simple, put your phones away people and be in the present.

  4. mike
    July 12, 2014 at 14:00

    Now put prices of food then and now...I have to pull out my phone and makes this dining experience as entertaining and long as possible. So ill watch netflix, take as much time as I like anf enjoy myself because my meal will cost WAY TOO MUCH.

    • Dan
      July 12, 2014 at 15:54

      Riiiight, because occupying a server's table and quite literally costing the server money because they will lose a rotation because of you is a great way to show the restaurant who's boss. Please, don't ever go out to eat again.

    • Sadie
      July 12, 2014 at 19:15

      So don't go out to eat. Simple. Don't be an idiot.

    • CEG
      July 13, 2014 at 17:12

      ditto ditto ditto to all the replies to your ridiculous, selfish comment. Yeah, you really showed 'em didn't you, you cut into that server's earnings, that will really prove to the restaurant they are charging too much. Maybe if inconsiderate people like you didn't eat out, and service could be more efficient, so that the restaurant could serve more people, they could also lower prices. You make no sense, please stay home and eat a peanut butter sandwich.

  5. Scot
    July 12, 2014 at 14:07

    Get rid of the wifi and put a cellular signal blocker in place. Post a sign saying this is a cell phone free sanctuary to foster a better environment for all patrons. There is a large segment of people who would eat there just for that fact. Then you only have some of the pictures to deal with, but they can't upload them so it's quicker.

    • kate
      July 12, 2014 at 15:59

      Has any restaurant done that as a schtick? Sounds like an intriguing and fun idea. Maybe call the place "Luddites" and embrace the electronic free zone. I wonder what sort of success they'd have.

    • Dineability
      July 12, 2014 at 17:34

      That's a crime against FCC regulations.

    • Sadie
      July 12, 2014 at 19:16

      Jamming cell phones is illegal at the federal level and is a felony. Nope. You're being an idiot.

    • Joe
      July 12, 2014 at 19:25

      You can request customers not use their phones and kick them out if they do, but jamming the signal is illegal.

      • Thomas J.
        July 12, 2014 at 20:03

        You don't have to "request". They can make it their policy, and anyone who breaks that policy would be asked to leave. They could just put a sign up by the door that states this. I've seen lots of restaurants do this for the exact reason as the article points out. Idiots who can't take their nose out of their phones and disrupts the service for the entire restaurant.

    • S.R. Kursk
      July 12, 2014 at 20:45

      Actively jamming any radio signal is illegal. However, using radio blocking paint or constructing the restaurant to be a giant Faraday cage is very much legal.

      • David H.
        July 13, 2014 at 04:53

        Waaaa, waiter, fix my phooooone!! I'm expecting a really important text and maybe if I got reseated to a table by the other window, my precious phone would get a signal??!!? This is REALLY important!!!! No, I'm not gonna order, I'll just fiddle with settings on my phone because maybe I'll figure out how to reconnect. Oh and that other table just freed up, maybe you can reseat me there???

      • Pete
        July 13, 2014 at 07:25

        So you like splitting hairs with the law. That would be illegal too. The blocking rule is to protect customers like doctors from missing important calls or pages. Just ban all phone use, so people in that situation know ahead of time it is not allowed in the restaurant and they can make other arrangements.

    • Sissy
      July 13, 2014 at 04:57

      There was a restaurant in Los Angeles that took 5% off the bill if everyone at the table agreed not to use their phones! Revolutionary!!

    • Geedeezy
      July 13, 2014 at 13:08

      Cell blockers are outlawed by the FCC. Just turn the WiFi off and let it go. You can't changed 'stupid people tricks'.

  6. Tom
    July 12, 2014 at 14:11

    Laura a solution is not required to solve a mystery, what are you blabbing about? They found out what caused the longer turn around time in their restaurant, aka mystery solved. Not really sure how that confused you. Second, do you really think their "focus" was to see how many customers walked into waiters while texting, give me a break, you're being a bit retarded. Third, don't be so quick to know it all, Mrs. Restaurant, just because they didn't tell us about an implemented solution in this article does not mean there isn't one. Also, do you REALLY think someone is going to waste their time logging into wifi for the menu, when it's sitting right in front of them? The answer is no Laura, get a grip. Customers want wifi access to upload the picture they HAD to take of their burger to social media, proving to all their little "followers" that they do in fact eat food. "I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots." -Albert Einstein

    • Kip
      July 12, 2014 at 15:56

      Here here!

    • sifta
      July 12, 2014 at 18:02

      n.b. Einstein never said that. It doesn't mean that the quote is not insightful, but you might as well put "Gandhi" or "MLK" or "Lincoln" or "Feynman" or whomever you like as the attribution.

      • Thomas J.
        July 12, 2014 at 20:08

        According to multiple sites, he did say that. Do you have evidence that he didn't?

        • Wade W
          July 13, 2014 at 19:27

          I hope you didn't look those sites up on a cell phone.. in a public place.. Times change. This entire article seems irrelevant to me. "PEOPLE USE THEIR PHONES MORE NOW!?!?" Instead of making an obvious business decision to find some way to embrace the data that the owners have worked so hard to gather, the solution is to try to put a plug on the zeitgeist so whatever cheap restaurant this is can churn out more customers? All this social inept chatter is ridiculous. The fact that the general consensus of this board so far is to immediately side with the business and not ask questions like, "why don't they raise their prices?" or "doesn't a shared food photo hold value?" shows just how far out of touch with reality people are who don't understand technology. If this is in fact not a troll, and the owner's solution is to somehow limit phone usage to speed up table times, they will lose customers fast when word gets out that this particular establishment doesn't take kindly to tourists who want to take pictures, or use their GPS, or search Google, etc.

        • boethius
          July 13, 2014 at 21:02

          Just as Edmund Burke never said "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" this is another that mere repetition does not certify as true. This particular quote is soundly refuted here: http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/03/19/tech-surpass/

        • DBM
          July 14, 2014 at 11:52

          How, exactly, does one have evidence of someone NOT saying something?

        • Jay
          July 14, 2014 at 14:28


        • Anti-Thom
          July 14, 2014 at 19:59

          "The problem with quotes on the internet is you can never be certain of their validity." - Abraham Lincoln Now go look up the logical fallacy of proving a negative. Also 'fallacy' as I doubt you know that term.

        • boo boo
          July 15, 2014 at 04:37

          According to multiple websites, unicorns exist. Do you have evidence that they don't?

      • Jay
        July 14, 2014 at 14:30

        Other favorites include Mark Twain, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill.

    • Thomas J.
      July 12, 2014 at 20:06

      Ya know, I thought the same exact thing when I read her post. A mystery needs a solution to be solved? interesting... This generation that's coming up is completely socially inept. The biggest kicker is, they don't even know how damaged they are. I'm glad I am just old enough to see how retarded they're turning out.

  7. Ya ok
    July 12, 2014 at 14:43

    Yeah. That totally happened.

  8. bigdaddyhame
    July 12, 2014 at 14:50

    How times change, hmm? It seems that this restaurant hasn't changed with the times even though they had 10 years to get used to the changing needs of their customers. Some possible solutions: a) put wifi instructions for both iPhone and android users on the menu or on a slip of paper (with the week's password on it) b) use a hashtag to capture customer selfies and foodie pics on a Twitter account and encourage customers to join your Facebook page c) train your staff how to deal with new technology. Perhaps hire younger staff who know this stuff already.

    • Look
      July 12, 2014 at 16:23

      How much does a restaurant need to "change with the times"? If it serves quality food in a clean and welcoming environment, knowledgeable staff (meaning you talk to the server for information, crazy idea, I know!), they're behind because because they're not providing access to the most socially-retarding medium ever created by mankind? Will people expect interactive games with links and hashtags for when they visit the bathroom? I mean, some of those sinks are hi-tech, someone should be Instagramming it! As for only hiring younger staff, hmmmmm, seems exclusive, discriminatory, ageist, I could go on. Because the Millenials have such a reputation for great work ethics. You're so right!

      • Name :
        July 12, 2014 at 22:07

        "Because the Millenials have such a reputation for great work ethics. You’re so right!" Sounds ageist.

    • John
      July 12, 2014 at 16:42

      Not bad ideas. BUT it wouldn't hurt if people stopped being so unbelievably self-absorbed, as well. (I also think this might be a fiction. I find some of the data hard to believe. More than half of customers want a group photo taken? That's either bs, or totally crazy.)

      • CEG
        July 13, 2014 at 17:17

        If the restaurant is a "special occasion" place where people are celebrating birthdays or whatever, I'm sure at least half do ask to have pics taken. But you're absolutely right, people are so self absorbed they think it's a restaurant's job to assist them in conducting activities other than eating. Ridiculous.

    • TC
      July 13, 2014 at 18:14

      "Hire younger staff who know this stuff already." Seriously? Let's get past the very outdated notion that *only young staff can handle tech. Please, give some credit -- some respect for intelligence -- to older staff, who probably have the additional experience in the service industry to capitalize on tech even more than you realize...

  9. Betty Normal
    July 12, 2014 at 14:59

    What about not having WIFI and blocking phone signals? Yeah so you might loose some repeat customers but again you might process a lot more too....

  10. Prakash Chintamani Malshe
    July 12, 2014 at 15:15

    Quite impressive observations and inferences. However, I agree with Laura that the customers should be given better directions to connect with the Wi-Fi network. In addition to the usual waiters there should be special assistants who can help with photography. After all customers come to enjoy and live life. So it is to the credit of the restaurant that they want to spend more time there. The owners should try to increase the seating capacity of the place to keep the earnings going up rather than hurrying the customers to eat and quit.

  11. WhoHa
    July 12, 2014 at 15:29

    No Wifi and no Cell signal won't stop people from taking pictures

  12. Amir Talai
    July 12, 2014 at 16:08

    Seems fictional, but the basic point makes intuitive sense. I think restaurants should offer a phone check, like a coat check, except in order to get people to part with their phones, offer them a free appetizer or something. Quicker table turnover, plus people will actually enjoy themselves more.

  13. Keith
    July 12, 2014 at 16:13

    If this is a "nice" restaurant, I don't think it would be any more rude to enforce a "no phones" policy than a "you must wear shoes and shirt" or other dress code. I think it could be overall positive for everyone.

  14. Hannah
    July 12, 2014 at 16:48

    Simple solution. The problem is with the customers. Put down your phones and order (if you have a question about the dish, ask the willing waiters, they're trained for this!). Then talk to who you are with. No one is going to care about the picture of the food, or the fact that you ate a steak in the next few years. Why document it? If you're going to the restaurant for the first time, or it's a special occasion, take pictures outside with the sign, don't waste time inside. But really: Don't complain about how long it takes when YOU are the problem. Tom, I loved the Einstein quote.

  15. Count Zero
    July 12, 2014 at 17:47

    About 2 hours for a dinner is long? In Europe that is considered the bare minimum for a small dinner set and we would feel rushed. And that has been the case loooong before smartphones were even invented. Really, you Americans totally miss the point of going to a restaurant with friends.

    • Laura #2
      July 12, 2014 at 21:10

      Thank you!!! Completely agree... If I'm in and out of a restaurant (even in the US) in less than two hours, I'm pretty perturbed, and feel very rushed.

    • Corey
      July 13, 2014 at 04:14

      The difference is that in Europe, other customers would not become as agitated with the serving staff for a slower turn around, but, in America, since everything in the dining experience is about efficiency and servility, a slow turn around time gets a bad rap from customers.

  16. Old Person With Opinions
    July 12, 2014 at 17:54

    As an fellow cynical old person, I applaud the author of this parable. It is entirely the fault of the customers for failing to take into account the restaurant's needs when dining there, as opposed to the restaurant failing to adapt to an ever-evolving society. I would like to subscribe to your newsletter, just as soon as you put down that phone & get off my lawn.

  17. athenienne
    July 12, 2014 at 18:18

    The people saying that the restaurant needs to catch up with the times and take better care of their customers are the same people this article is about. Inconsiderate of others around them and always ready to place the blame elsewhere.

  18. AJ
    July 12, 2014 at 20:44

    For anyone who thinks that "fixing the wifi" should be the restaurant's problem...you are all idiots. Wifi has nothing to do with a restaurant's experience unless you are in a cafe that advertises free wifi. Dining out is about the experience in the restaurant itself. The evidence shows proof positive that phones are killing the dining experience for the business and the consumer (seeing that by the time ppl stop taking pictures and yelping, their food is cold). I've been in this industry going on 13 years now and I'm only 27--I've seen it all. "they should make the menu more interactive"??? you're silly. "What do you mean seat elsewhere"--people are much more picky and self-entitled when they walk into a place, dummy. C'mon now. How about just shutting off the phones, stop being a douchetool and eat the food...like you're supposed to.

  19. emote_control
    July 12, 2014 at 21:36

    I'm amused at the number of people who think this is a real thing that happened, rather than just another email chain letter that made it onto Craigslist. In other words: [citation needed]

    • Hannah
      July 14, 2014 at 03:14

      Made up or not, still a very real problem. It's frustrating to be out eating with someone, but just feeling awkward because they are checking their phone or flat out using it the whole way through the meal. You can't have two conversations at once, so the second someone responds to a text the conversation is rudely put on hold. Happens all the time.

    • mrsnopes
      July 14, 2014 at 03:51

      Exactly ha. Classic clickbait and millennial bashing stuff. But it was on craigslist, it has to be true! Would be interesting to see a real study though.

  20. Martin
    July 13, 2014 at 05:40

    Why are people commenting on this as if any of it happened

  21. Pete
    July 13, 2014 at 07:35

    Why all of the table switching? have you made changes to the layout or do prior customers know where the better spots for wifi or cell connections are? Lower the lights more and ask customers to refrain from cellphone service. Create a cellphone check-in like they did with coats and hats. They can "leave the phone at the door. But something is still missing here. Your staff is doing something different but you can see it. Keep looking. In ten years I suspect your menus and plates have changed. It may be harder for the customer to understand the menu (They also have to take extra time to look over calories, no one did that ten years ago.) People have less extra money too. used to be go out for a dinner and a movie, now its just dinner so people take longer. We have all started to move slower it doesn't seem that way but talk a walk in the mall. It's not just the phones. Its the way people walk. Its one of those subtle changes that happens in a culture. We start walking differently. You staff is probably doing the same thing as well. Staff used to carry dishes up high, now its don lower to the waste. Bet you got ride of those ugly stands to put the trays on too. they actually speed things up in a restaurant just look stupid. But ten years ago people were still using them.

  22. LOL
    July 13, 2014 at 09:26

    Its not the customers on their phones silly author!!! Its the EMPLOYEES of the restaurant on their phones! Good try though

  23. Matt
    July 13, 2014 at 12:47

    It's interesting that many commenters have complained about social ineptitude amongst millennials while also consistently calling one another "idiot" and "retard." Let's all get along :)

  24. dumbwaiter
    July 13, 2014 at 16:25

    The world does not owe a restaurant success or profitability. Any easy way to fix this problem is to ban all customers, period. Alternately, ban cell phones and see if your business improves. Probably it won't unless your main customers are all senior citizens. Customers who stay longer usually buy more (drinks, desserts, appetizers). Customers who post pix are doing free advertising. If people are staying longer so you can't seat anyone else, that means you are at capacity and you should raise your prices to compensate.

  25. MK
    July 13, 2014 at 17:53

    Doesn't really matter to me whether this is true or not. It has a point, unlike 99% of online material, and the point is, those who would complain of slow service and assign it to a restaurant management's inability to properly run the place should consider changing public mores of social interaction in restaurants, of which they're likely guilty of themselves. It's true that constant attention to one's device is going to slow things down. That said, I increasingly see workers at all manner of service jobs slipping their phone out of a back pocket to check it like everyone else. That slows things down as well. Often, I'm using my phone at a restaurant to check Yelp to see what the general consensus is on what's good at an establishment or to see pictures of prepared dishes (after all, we first taste with our eyes, and photos do 10 times more to sell a dish than a meager list of ingredients). I've had great luck with this, as well as using online resources to direct me to places while traveling that I'd have never otherwise found (and probably eaten at a chain restaurant for the safety of consistency instead). And smart restaurants are using new tech to speed along the process. I went to a noisy restaurant in Hollywood last week with a live jazz band that gave tables "kallpods" that allowed you to bring the server to your table quickly, taking guesswork out of both when you're ready to order and when the server is needed throughout for new drinks, dessert, the check. How many times have diners spent 5-15 minutes or longer waiting for the check when they're ready to vacate the table for new people? Yes, technology has changed the restaurant experience. Social interaction would be enriched if guests did a "phone stack" in the table's center and paid more attention to each other and the taste of the food, instead of styling a picture they'll never look at again. But net-net, new tech also creates new business through positive word-of-mouth, more frictionless workflow, and entirely new systems. Perhaps most importantly: restaurants are in the hospitality business. It may make common sense to ask guests to behave more considerately, but it doesn't make the kind of monetary sense that suggests your establishment should seek to adjust your business to society - instead of asking society to adapt for your business.

  26. MK
    July 13, 2014 at 18:14

    The reason this is horseshit: 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......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. So, you're saying you hired a firm who came in and gave their conclusion without observation and then told you to do your own analyzation of old security tapes? Riiiiiiiiiiiiight. Oh...and.... "Having been in business for many years we noticed that although the number of customer’s we serve on a daily basis is almost the same today as it was 10 years ago.....(10 years ago)Average time from start to finish: 1:05......(today)average time from start to finish: 1:55" How is the number of customers served "almost the same today" as it was 10 years ago when the average time doubled? If people are taking twice as much time then there aren't as many customers as before. How are you serving the same number of customers if they take double the time?

  27. Churz
    July 13, 2014 at 18:22

    I am not quite sure about this being a real story, but it does bear strong points of truth. People waste way too long documenting their life instead of living it. In this case, they are wasting both their own time, the personnels', and other customers'. But beyond that, it is relatively "harmless". I'm more concerned about the sort of people that tweet and take pictures of an accident instead of calling the authorities or lending a hand. Cellphones are rendering people braindead, and not precisely because of the microwaves...

  28. […] an archive: Busy NYC Restaurant Solves Major Mystery by Reviewing Old Surveillance __________________ Some days you herp a derp, sometimes the derp herps […]

  29. Panskeptic
    July 13, 2014 at 21:19

    I like the parties who stack their phones in a pile at the beginning of a meal. The first one who retrieves his or her phone has to pick up the check for the whole table.

  30. daltonavey
    July 14, 2014 at 14:16

    I'm not surprised by that. I work in a convenience store and I get people who walk in talking on the cell and never hang up to even tell me what they want.

  31. Derek DeVries
    July 14, 2014 at 14:47

    I call bullshit on this claim. It's anti-tech nostalgia porn that is completely unsupported - if this is true - habeas corpus: post the two videos side-by-side on YouTube. The original post has been flagged for review by CraigsList: http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/rnr/4562386373.html

  32. Doug
    July 14, 2014 at 15:01

    Huh, first off, I have never been to a decent restaurant where people pull out their phones and take photos of their food and such. That shows a tremendous lack of class ... of course, I've also never been to a fine dining restaurant that offered public wifi either ... why would they? In fact, the idea of taking a photo of your food at a fine restaurant is just way outside the bounds of what I would consider reasonable. Sounds like the behaviour at a sports bar or a Starbucks. Come to think of it, I've never heard of someone asking a waiter for IT help, either. If this is what it's like to eat out in NYC, I think that the problem is way bigger than the problem described here. Anyway, although I'm kind of suspicious of this entire thing, the solution is simple. Stop the free wifi. People with zero class will use their phones (sigh) while allegedly eating with other people, but remove the temptation to use the free access and much of the problem is solved. I've never owned a cell phone. Thus, I never take pointless pictures of my meals, I talk to the people I'm with, and I don't spend countless hours paying premium prices to send the message "s'up?" to my alleged friends who obviously aren't doing anything since they're staring at my pointless text.

  33. Scott Spellman
    July 14, 2014 at 15:35

    This is highly suspicious because the numbers just don't make sense. I have never been to any restaurant where more than 50% of the people take photos of their food, or where people spend a full 3 minutes taking photos. There is also no way 20% of customers sent their food back to be reheated. Blaming smart phones for an 90% increase in table time is simply absurd. It also fails to mention any changes in the average spend per table, which usually increases high profit alcohol sales with longer table times.

  34. ddmcken
    July 15, 2014 at 03:50

    Since when did "Craigslist" become newsworthy content??

  35. […] By now you’ve probably read the Craigslist post from a restaurateur who compared old and new video footage of patrons in his or her restaurant in an attempt to understand why his service wasn’t being regarded as highly as it had been. (It was flagged on Craigslist, but numerous copies of it have been reposted to the blogosphere. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.)  […]

  36. mara
    July 15, 2014 at 18:49

    Gee, I wonder why Craigslist has removed the post.

  37. Elena Daskalova
    July 16, 2014 at 02:07

    It's quite simple. You go for a dinner, not a chat-room. Waiters are not supposed to wait for you to make a selfie. But they DO wait for it. And you are supposed to order ...something. And if the food is ready for only 10 minutes, this is not a restaurant, but FAST FOOD junk. So don't complain. Bon apetit!

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