How long will you wait to be seated?
- Das Ubergeek
So it's dinnertime and you realise you don't have time, energy, or the ingredients to cook, and you decide to go out at the last minute.
You show up at a restaurant and hope for a table.
"Welcome to P.F. Ruth's Outback Chili Friday Garden Jumper, home of the two-hour wait, may I help you?"
What's the longest you're willing, on average, to wait? I don't mean you just got out of work and are eyeing the lampposts hungrily, just a normal night.
I rarely if ever am willing to wait more than 30 minutes, even if there's a bar where I can get a martini or a beer while I wait.
I live in a suburban neighbourhood of Los Angeles, and I notice longer and longer waits at the chain restaurants (some of which I actually like for certain dishes -- I'm ashamed to admit that I like the salad, soup and breadsticks at the Olive Garden and a bunch of the food at Chili's, which gets big points for delivering to airports).
By the same token, if we go out to a mid-range (nice, but not ridiculous) restaurant, say Cafe Bizou or Marmalade or Yujean Kang's, it's either no tables available or we're seated in ten minutes -- and the size of the crowd at the bar seems to have no relation to it.
You are very much correct. Out here in Phoenix, we drive EVERYWHERE. The point that I get second thoughts is usually 30-40 minutes just because if we leave there and go to another place and it turns out they have a 10-15 minute wait, we might as well have just stayed at the first place. If the restaurant is really, really good, then I'll wait a couple of hours. I always keep a deck of cards or two in the car especially for situations like this; a glass of wine, some good conversation, and a game of canasta makes two hours feel like much less.
Depends on what I'm waiting for, how hungry I am, and the available alternatives. Usually this amounts to 30-35 minutes.
I agree with the "diminishing returns" argument. It really depends on how quick and easy it will be to get to another place that I find equally acceptable.
I think 20 minutes is about the breaking point.
The other thing is that, if I'm going out because I'm tired, I certainly don't want to stand around and wait. I'm more willing to wait for a "special occasion" meal.
I can never figure out why people wait for hours to eat at a chain. The whole point of a chain is that it's just like another restaurant. Why wait to eat there when you can go somewhere else and have almost the identical experience?
In the other discussions about chains currently taking place on various boards, "quick and convenient" is often cited as a reason for eating at chains. But when you have to wait more than a few minutes, it's no longer quick and convenient, so why eat there? I'm thinking specifically of places like Cheesecake Factory, where people have mentioned waits of 2-3 hours. I can't imagine waiting 3 hours to eat at the Cheesecake Factory.
Ten minutes MAX.
Recently, I did wait 20 minutes at one of the Basque restaurants in Elko, NV. The hostess said that it would be twenty minutes. I was ready to walk but then she blurted out ... "but it's worth it."
And she was right.