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Restaurant Finds that Smartphone Photos Have Doubled Table Times Since 2004



Not exactly a reliable scientific study, a recent Craigslist rant by one “Busy NYC Restaurant” that describes itself as “a popular restaurant for both locals and tourists” has gotten a lot of press time for drawing attention to a troubling intersection of food service and photography.

Posted in the rants and raves section of the online classifieds site, the restaurant supposedly compared security footage from 2004 with that from 2014 and found that taking cell phone photos and other smartphone shenanigans have added nearly an hour to the average table time at the restaurant.

That’s right, according to the ‘research’ this restaurant allegedly did, patrons added nearly a full hour to their average stay at a restaurant by fiddling with their phones by taking pics of their food, of the restaurant, of each other and of themselves.


The rant quite simply breaks down the average experience in 2004 and compares it with 2014. In 2004, the stay involved what you would expect from a restaurant: walk in, spend 8 minutes figuring out what you want, order, get food, eat, ask for the check, and get out of there. The average time from start to finish: one hour and five minutes.

In 2014, things go a little differently. Here’s the word-for-word breakdown:

  • 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).
  • 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. [Compared to 8 mins in 2004]
  • 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.

The average time from start to finish in 2014? According to the rant, it went from 1:05 to 1:55.


So let’s do some math.

The average life span (splitting the difference between men and women) is about 78 and a half years. There are 52 weeks in a year, which means that, on average, people live about 4,082 weeks in a lifetime. If you go out to dinner once per week, and spend an extra 50 minutes at your table every time because you’re taking pics, that comes out to 3,401.6 hours wasted.

When it’s all said and done, that means taking pictures of your food could potentially waste 141.7 days of your life. Some food for thought, if you will.

(via DineAbility)

Image credits: Smart phones and food Exchange Place NOLA by Infrogmation, oh hi, yes i’m taking a picture of my food to tweet about it by Michelle Tribe and Group at Restaurant Vogelweide by Axel Hecht.