I am not sure if I have made an entry like this before. The trigger for this entry is this article which describes how a famous restaurant kept getting negative reviews and they really had no idea why. The decision was made to pull out some old footage of the surveillance system and have it compared with recent footage. The conclusion was that people were using their mobile devices more and that this would be a distraction for both the customers as well as the waiters and waitresses.
You didn’t discover this earlier??
One of the conclusions was that customers on average spend almost 2 hours in a restaurant were ten years back, the customer would wrap up in a little over an hour. The first thing that crossed my mind was: “How did you not discover this earlier?” One way to discover this, is the turnover. A less frequent table cycle (=new customers arriving at a table) definitely drops the income per evening; especially if customers take twice the time at their table! I am unable to grasp that restaurant owners do not notice this. If my income drops, I am determined to figure out why!
I see a field of tension between customers allowing to use their cell phones, taking more time at a table restaurant and the damage it does to the table cycle. A restaurant owner does not want to disallow the usage of cell phones, either, scaring customers away; although… some Dutch restaurants have started some positive reinforcement to not use cell phones in their locations by using signs that say for example: “In this restaurant we speak to one another instead of through our phones”. That is getting attention and attracting a group of people.
How are things done in The Netherlands and how is this affecting Dutch restaurants?
In short: it is not affecting Dutch restaurants. The biggest different between Dutch restaurants (or actually citizens) and Americans is that Dutch people regard their restaurant visit as an evening out. They actually spend an entire evening at a restaurant table, even taking their time consuming their food. It actually is not about the food they consume; it is about the quality time (evening) spent together. After Dutch people are done with their food, they drink coffee and a few more drinks spending some chit/chat time at the table. A restaurant is lucky if their table cycle is 2, meaning that they get two sets of customers seated at one table on the same evening. This is one of the downsides why eating out in The Netherlands is so expensive. In Hoorn we have one restaurant, though that have two sessions. When making a reservation, they ask you whether you arrive at 6pm or at 8pm. We sometimes eat at this restaurant and really… after two hours we are actually done and are wanting to leave.
I find the two different restaurant concepts between the US and The Netherlands very interesting. Both sides have advantages and disadvantages. There is not one side that I like better, since I am accustomed to both sides and I adapt. What would you like better? Pay more and spend an entire evening out or spend less and leave within one or two hours? Could you see how it works for ‘the other side’?