Friday, October 3, 2014

NYC Restaurant Mystery- Solved!

Happy Friday, readers!

 A stormy view today in Music City, but it's still pretty!

I got a new polish color yesterday that I'm pretty excited about-  its Mod About You by OPI! 
You can order it here

Now for today's post!

Like the emoji collage I made? This post is a mystery story. I love mysteries, especially the ones that are SOLVED!

Have you ever worked in a restaurant before? If you have, you've probably seen first hand the science that goes into everything in the restaurant- where the guests are seated, how long before the server arrives at your table, how long the food is in the window, how long you have to flip the table for the next guest, etc! Back when I worked in a Nashville restaurant in '08 and '09 we all were always running around like crazy people getting guests everything they needed and doing our best to keep everything running smoothly.

Here is a story I recently read on the Daily Mail and Distractify about a busy NYC restaurant that had been having problems with slow service. They hired a private investigation company to film and look into what was causing the problem. Once they solved the mystery, they posted an anonymous ad on Craigslist to inform the public of the issue. The post went viral- and this is the post: 

"Busy NYC Restaurant Solves Major Mystery By Reviewing Old Surveillance- Midtown East"

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 customers we serve on a daily basis is almost the same today as it was 10 years ago, the service just seems super slow even though we added much more staff and cut back on 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 their 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 its 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 would 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 sized 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 get seats 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.
Waiter shows up and 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 were 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 are 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 clude what they are doing and do not monitor customer WIFI activity.)

7 our of 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 to 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 of 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 their 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, their 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 our 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 little bit more considerate?

You can read this story here. Yes, the restaurant's Craigslist post comes off as cranky. Yes, NYC is a tourist town so many of these people probably were tourists. 

But if this really is the case, then I think it won't be long before cellphones are banned from restaurants. I have noticed that I take longer in a restaurant than I did in around 2004. I'm often not ready to order when the waiter comes by my table, but I don't think that is because of my smartphone activity. 

It is usually because when I am having dinner with someone, I haven't seen them in a while so I am excited to see them and I'm catching up with them and I forget to look at my menu. This is kind of smartphone related because I have usually been communicating with my friend via text that day/week-- not by talking on the telephone like I did before smartphones. But I always leave an awesome tip (ever since working in a restaurant I can't let myself ever, everrrrr leave a bad or even mediocre tip unless the service was horrific). 

This ALSO could be due to the fact that the economy isn't as good now as in 2004, so when people go out to eat, they are spending money and want to have the best experience possible, so they may linger trying to enjoy their food and dining experience. 

Readers, what do you think of this post? Is this what you think is causing slow service in restaurants- and how could this problem be solved? Thanks for reading! Have a fabulous weekend, everybody!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...