Can We Blame Cell Phones For Slow Service?

Are cell phones to blame? I found this study fascinating. After a New York City restaurant kept getting bad reviews for slow service, they decided to compare surveillance footage from 2004 to 2014. They discovered shocking results. So much so, they posted their findings on Craigslist:


  • Out of 45 Customers seated, 3 requested to be seated elsewhere.
  • Customers on average spend 8 minutes before closing the menu to show they are ready to order.
  • Appetizers arrive within 6 minutes. Out of 45 Customers 2 sent items back.
  • After guests are done, the check delivered, and within 5 minutes they leave.
  • Average time from start to finish: 1:05


  • Out of 45 Customers seated, 18 requested to be seated elsewhere.
  • Before even opening the menu they take their phones out.
  • 7 out of the 45 Customers had a problem connecting to the WIFI and ask the waiters for help.
  • 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 come back.
  • This happens again.
  • Average time from when the Customer was seated until they placed their order – 21 minutes.
  • Food starts getting delivered within 6 minutes.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Average time from start to finish: 1:50

Restaurant asks Customers to be more considerate – The restaurant concludes their rant with, “We are grateful for everyone who comes into our restaurant, after all there are so many choices out there. But can you please be a bit more considerate?” Read full story.

Did the restaurant do the right thing? I actually am impressed that this restaurant took the time and conducted the research. I think their findings were startling and probably pretty accurate. Where they totally missed out was, instead of lashing out at their Customers, they needed to use these findings as a great opportunity to re-train staff on today’s Customer. What do you think? Do you agree that cell phones are causing slower service in restaurants? Would love to hear your comments!

About The Author

John DiJulius

John R. DiJulius is a best-selling author, consultant, keynote speaker and President of The DiJulius Group, the leading Customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on Customer experience trends and best practices.