There’s A Place and Time for All Things


You’re at home right now, sitting at the table with your family. Everybody is there – your dad, mom, siblings, all sitting with each other. Your parents outdid themselves today, a whole smoked ham hock, complete with pineapple rings and cherries. Mashed potatoes already buttered, sour cream mixed in and baked in the oven to get that decadent crispy topping in the casserole bowl. Under the table you feel your dog’s deep breathing as your feet brush up against the soft fur on their side. The room is dead silent except for your cat’s lapping tongue as it purrs, cleaning itself in the corner and the occasional clanking of eatery. (Taste that atmosphere!)

Everybody just stares down toward the table, sterile blueish – white light cascading off of their faces, cutting into their food with one side of their forks before quickly depositing the bounty into their mouths, chewing silently. As they finish their plates, one-by-one, your family members gather their dishes in one hand and leave the room as silent as they entered. (Seriously, I should do this for a living.)

Okay, so maybe it’s not that weird when you eat with your family and use your phone at the same time; but you can’t deny that you don’t sometimes look over your shoulder at a table in a restaurant, in a mere glance, as a small feeling of pity and judgement creeps up your spine when you see that family of four who look so detached from reality and each other because they constantly stare at their phones during the whole meal. The thing that you probably didn’t notice is that what their doing is not only in the way of their relationships, but it might be ruining the reputation of the restaurant you’re eating at as well.


A recent(-ish) craigslist rant was made by a manager of a ‘busy New York restaurant’. In his post, he came to the conclusion that the drastic increase of average table turn (the amount of time it takes for a customer to sit down at a table, order, eat, and leave or whatever) was all due to cell phones. They came to this conclusion by reviewing security footage captured by cameras within their restaurant and seeing the interactions between the customers and the servers. (Why can’t we just go back to saying ‘waiters’? It’s just as androgynous and actually allows room for pride to grow. Seriously… nobody can say they proudly ‘serve’ people, that’s just taking out ‘ant’ and putting in ‘er’ while insinuating the exact same thing, except this time, it’s not conditional to your skin color and you now have the options to clock out and to quit.)

They compared footage from 2004 with footage from 2014 and what they observed is as follows (it’s an actual excerpt directly from the post because I hate altered or filtered info, feel free to skip to the conclusion if you’re too lazy, just know that I’ll judge you).

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

Pretty smooth right? Not a lot of hang ups happening. Well, check this out, this is what was observed on 2014 footage tapes.

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



All in all, if you’re going to a restaurant, it’s just an overall good form to put away your phone for the ordering process. That way you can get your food faster and the waiter doesn’t have to keep interrupting whatever you’re doing on facebook. And I know, your food looks delicious, but if you wait 5-10 minutes to start eating because you have to post a picture of it on Instagram, don’t blame the establishment if it’s cold. Table etiquette is important for business and important for the relationship you have with the person you’re eating with. (TLDR: Don’t be “that person with the cell phone” .)


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