Terrible hospitality is the problem, not cell phones

I’ve got to get this one off my chest cause every time I see a friend repost this ridiculous and most likely false story, it upsets me.

The story I’m referring to is a posting that was placed on Craig’s List by an anonymous worker from a ‘New York restaurant’ that claims cell phones are the reason why wait times and service is slow at all restaurants. It’s the new technology and the rude people who use them all the time that’s responsible for poor service, never the innocent wait staff.

First off, I’ve watched enough episodes of Mystery Diners to know that the staff isn’t always as innocent as this poster would like us to believe. Watch a half a dozen episodes of that show and you’ll never want to step food in any fine dining establishment ever again. Yet I’ve watched every episode and I still do go out to eat. Why? Because I don’t assume that every single person working in the food industry is as bad as the people I watched on TV. I don’t sweep every restaurant worker with the same brush. I don’t make sweeping generalizations of people like the person who posted this chicken shit anonymous critique on Craig’s List.

There’s another part I don’t like about this rant; this writer’s chicken shit approach to posting it anonymously on Craig’s List. I’d like to know what restaurant this fable took place in. We’ll never know because the person who posted this doesn’t work in the food industry and this restaurant doesn’t exist. It’s fiction. Just another fake story that I’m sure Snopes is in the process of disproving as I type this. Just to let you know, the original post on Craig’s List has been deleted by the site. That just gives you another reason to question the credibility of this alleged food worker.

But let’s get to the guts of this person’s alleged issues; that being the cell phone slowing down turnover at restaurants and is responsible for poor service.

Nope, I’m sorry; that’s complete bullshit.

(This picture isn’t rude… it’s free advertising.)

Way before the cell phone age, it was considered good manners for customers could take their time ordering. It was also considered all right for them to take their time having their meal and then take their time after finishing their meal to enjoy the company of their companions. Whether they’re on the phone or talking to a face-face companion doesn’t change the fact this is still a hospitality service and it is the customers’ expectation to walk in to not just enjoy their meal, but to have a nice evening out. You don’t have to agree with how they do it. But to expect customers on the phone to have to leave and to have to have efficiency as if they’re at work themselves is ridiculous. Let me put it this way, if a table is having a conversation with each other but is looking at the menu at the same time, how is that not considered being rude but checking at text message is? This proves how ridiculous this anonymous person’s argument is.

I’ve been dining out for quite some time, even before the age of cell/smart phones. Back then, it was okay to lounge with your friends and have a tea or even a brandy to hang out and have a conversation with your friend after the meal was over. Now it’s being considered rude to socialize with your friends even though that is part of the reason why you’re dining out to begin with. So what has changed between that time and now? It’s not the invention of the cell phone but the new attitude of the food industry.

There is a trend I have started to notice over the last few years and that is one of ferocious table turnover. Restaurants are now starting to look down at people who stay at their table for more than an hour. That article from Craig’s List is proof of that because it seems to scowl at people for staying at their table for too long. There shouldn’t be such a thing as too long if you work in the hospitality service. People go out dine not just to eat good food but to socialize and no restaurant worker or owner should be whipping out the stop watch every time someone sits down at their table. That in my opinion is rude and unprofessional. There has been more than one incident where a server delivered the bill before I asked for it. That is what it’s come to in the food industry. If you don’t move out of your seat quickly enough they will deliver your bill, which is their way of saying “thanks for coming, now get the fuck out”. This is very rude because on more than one occasion, someone at my table wanted to order another drink and have dessert. This place lost money because of their impatience or their inability to ask if we wanted anything else before delivering our bill.

So what has really changed in ten years? I’ll tell you what’s changed: a restaurant’s ability to remain polite and hospitable in what has now become a cut-throat industry. A lot of restaurants want and sometimes need to turnover their tables as much as possible in order to stay in business and as a result clients are pushed right out the door like I was. I’ve seen people walk into a restaurant, sit at a table alone and read a book while waiting for their order to dine alone. How is that any different than reading a news article on your smart phone and catching up on the news or even reading an actual newspaper? Timing how long people sit at a table and then trying to push them out is unbecoming of anyone who is trying to be hospitable. It is atrocious behavior that will result in good clients not coming back to your establishment anytime soon. It will also result in a bad review on Yelp, which will lead to losing more than just one customer and cause your restaurant to have a bad online reputation.

(This picture took less than 30 secs to capture, not 5 minutes. And doesn’t it make you want to run out and buy this deep dish pizza? Taken at Chicago Style Pizza in Hamilton, Ontario by the way… and this deep dish pizza was amazing.)

Based on what I’ve observed, the cell phone argument is garbage. Yes, as Bob would tell us the times are a changing. Cell phones do exist and yes, people will use them but these small devices are not the enemy. I’ve used my cell phone in a restaurant to do many things; check the time, read any texts from home and to also take pictures of my food. Unlike the anonymous Craig List poster thinks, it takes less than a minute to take a picture of your food because I’m too hungry to be a perfectionist. And why do I take a picture of my food? Because when I post a glowing review on Yelp later that night, I like to add a picture to show people what a kickass time I had at the place I’m reviewing. Those kind words with a picture of amazing food beside and maybe even pictures of happy customers is free advertising for this restaurant. It leads to more business and more profits for them if their clients go online and post rave reviews of their service and their food. This is why food servers shouldn’t be quick to judge those who are taking a quick snap shot here and there because that trend does have its perks as well.

Yet what amuses (and irritates) me most is the number of people who think this is a real thing that happened, rather than just another email chain letter that made it onto Craig’ s List.

In other words: [citation needed]

PJ

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