By Christina Menezes
Are you able to get through dinner without looking at your smartphone once? Have you ever taken a selfie with your friends at a restaurant, or asked a waiter to snap a picture of your group? Do you sometimes take pictures of your food and hashtag foodporn? If you answered yes to one or all of these questions, you are not alone.
In recent years, cell phones have increasingly been blamed for slower service and longer wait times at restaurants. In a now deleted Craigslist rant, a New York restaurant claims to have reviewed surveillance footage from 2004 and 2014, and found a significant increase in the amount of time it takes to serve customers. The write-up claims that average total service time has risen by a whopping 50 minutes, from 1 hour 5 minutes in 2004 to 1 hour 55 minutes in 2014.
Here are some of the other more specific claims from the post:
- 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.
We can’t speak to the accuracy of these claims, but it doesn’t seem too surprising, given how technologically dependent we now are as a society. In fact, a few chefs have publicly criticized phone pictures and social media posts for ruining the dining experience, while some restaurants have restricted the use of phones in their dining rooms altogether. In New York City, for instance, photos are banned at the Michelin-starred Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, following attempts from several other elite New York chefs to restrict food photography.
On the other hand, some chefs are embracing this new phenomenon of “foodstagramming” as part of our culture in the age of social media and real time status updates. It’s free advertising, if you ask me.