A few years ago Savored Journeys conducted a study on "How Long Would You Wait In Line at a Restaurant?" There have been several other studies as to which states are the most impatient and which states are the most patient, especially when it comes to waiting in line at restaurants.

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The good news is Texas is nowhere near the top of the "impatient list'. However Texas is not on the list with the "most patience" either. Texas landed at #23 in the nationwide survey (source: DailyMail). The reason I bring this up is because of a restaurant experience a few nights ago that put my own patience to the test.

My wife was craving pancakes. When I arrived at this particular restaurant, I noticed only seven vehicles in the parking lot, and by the looks of it through the windows, they only had a handful of tables occupied. So I assumed we would not have a long wait. To my surprise, we waited way longer than I expected. But we waited patiently because we wanted pancakes.

When we entered the restaurant, the sign at the host station read 'Please Wait To Be Seated'. I noticed the time was 9:59 PM (nothing to worry about - this is a 24-hour restaurant). After we waited about 15 minutes, a server finally said, "I'll be with you in a minute." Ten minutes later a host sat us at a table and asked what we wanted to drink, saying he would tell our server.

The entire wait from the time we entered the establishment until we were paying out was a total of two hours and three minutes. Mind you there were only six occupied tables; one had six patrons and the rest were two-toppers. From the minute we ordered our food until it was delivered was 50 minutes.

So I got to wondering, "How long is too long to wait and is there a wait time etiquette?" The answer is yes and no. According to some studies, the pandemic changed the way we wait for things nowadays. According to Restaurant Ready Training (RTO) Online, a restaurant training website, maximum wait times are as follows (on average):

  • Wait time to be seated - 15 to 20 minutes
  • Wait time to order beverages and hors-d'oeuvres - 3 to 7 minutes
  • Wait time to order food from the menu - 5 to 10 minutes
  • Wait time for food to be served once ordered - 20 to 35 minutes (depending on the types of foods)

RTO says there are some very important "Do's and Don'ts" that restaurants need to be adhering to, like:

  • Do acknowledge the problem. Let guests know you’re aware of the delay and you’re working on it. The last thing you want is for guests to think their food is sitting under a heat lamp while you’re doing other things.
  • Do apologize. Tell guests you’re sorry for the delay, and mean it.
  • Do offer options. If the delay is going to be a while, offer an appetizer you can prepare and bring out quickly.
  • Don’t point fingers. Even when the problem is directly related to something else going on in the restaurant, take one for the team. Never say that the kitchen is behind or that a big party disrupted the service flow.

Be polite. My advice to everyone is to be kind, for we do not know the reason for the slow service.

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