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Are Smartphones to Blame for Slow Service at Restaurants?

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A unnamed restaurant in NYC is blaming customers' use of cell phones for its slow service. According to Eater NY, a restaurant in NYC found that it received an "increasing number of customers complaining about slow service in recent years" and so it hired a firm to investigate the problem. The restaurant then revealed the results on a now-deleted Craigslist post. Apparently, the biggest change was the increased use of cell phones by customers, which the restaurant believes distract customers and causes meals to last longer.

After comparing footage from a dinner service in 2004 to footage from a dinner service in 2014 — on a day that had "roughly the same amount of customers" — the restaurant found that a meal used to take around one hour to serve, but now it takes closer to two. It claims that in 2014 "9 out of 45 customers sent their food back to reheat," adding, "Obviously if they didn't pause to do whatever on their phone the food wouldn't have gotten cold." The restaurant also apparently found that in 2014 "26 out of 45 customers spend an average of 3 minutes taking photos of the food." The use of cell phones also caused customers to take longer to look at the menu and order food. Plus, when "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."

These numbers may all just be a hoax, but restaurants have been lashing out at the use of cell phones for a while now. Many French chefs have publicly come out against customers taking photos of the food, citing that it "ruins" the experience for other diners. Chef Alexandre Gauthier (La Grenouillère) also noted that by the time customers finished photographing the dish, it often went cold. Chef Grant Achatz (Next, Alinea) has long been a critic of food photography in restaurants, arguing that it destroys the enjoyment of the food. Some restaurants have even gone so far as to incentivize customers to surrender their cell phones during the meal. Others have banned phones all together or have created "designated cell phone areas."

· Restaurant Blames Smartphones for Slow Service [Eater NY]
· Restaurant Watches Old Surveillance [Distractify]
· All Cell Phone Coverage on Eater [-E-]