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How smartphone addicts slow down restaurant service

A man takes a picture of his meal with his mobile phone to share it on the
A man takes a picture of his meal with his mobile phone to share it on the "Food Reporters" network on July 19, 2012 during his lunch in a restaurant in Paris.
AFP/AFP/Getty Images

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Smartphones at restaurants can be both a help and a hindrance to their business owners. On the one hand, customers posting Instagram foodie photos or Yelp check-ins can be great promotion.

On the other hand, patrons who spend a ton of time texting, talking, and scrolling on their smartphones can slow down service and table turnover.

One New York City restaurant reportedly analyzed customer behavior using in-house video from 2004 and compared it to video from 2014. (Note: some publications say the anonymous restaurant rant is a fake.) It's said that the owners were trying to figure out why their service had slowed considerably over the years, despite adding staff.

In 2004, the average start-to-finish time of a table was one hour and five minutes.

In 2014, it jumped to one hour and fifty-five minutes - with most of the time being wasted by customers eyeing their phones instead of reading the menu, eating food or paying the bill.

Are you guilty of dragging out your restaurant experience by focusing on your phone? If you’re in the industry, how do you see customers interact with their phones?


Luke O'Neil, Journalist who writes about the food industry and worked in the industry for ten years.