How long should you wait for your meal while dining out?

After coming back from my spring break cruise, it has taken some time for me to get accustomed to not having unlimited supply of food at all time or the option of trying every single thing on the menu. On the cruise I was on for spring break, we had the same waiter every night for 7 nights. He knew us by name and whether we were tired or had too much fun  that day. He would get offended when we wouldn’t finish our plate and would insist that we would try something else if we didn’t like our choice for entree.

So it was no surprise that coming back to America, was a big drastic change that I was reluctant to get used to…Or I guess a norm that I had  to unwillingly get back to.

I chose to go out to a place that had been recommended by my friends called True Food at the Biltmore in Phoenix. The place was beautiful and I had heard about how healthy and tasty the food was, so I was eager to check out the menu. We were seated at our table after a less than five minute wait at a popular dinner time 7 p.m. (superb!) However, it went downhill from here, we sat down without a menu or water for about 10 minutes. (In the head of a hungry person that is a decade) The waiter finally came and after we made our decision to try two meals and split each in half he took off.

I decided to time him, one minute after he had stepped away from our table. He came to deliver our waters and noticed I was timing him. (Both good and bad for this experiment) He asked me if I was timing him and I replied indeed I was. I hadn’t meant to place any pressure on him, but as soon as he saw that, he stated that our food would get to us in about eight minutes. He then took his answer back and stated that because one of our choices was pizza it would take anywhere between 10-12 minutes. He brought our first plate within 10 minutes and then brought our second plate at 14 and some minutes. He then looked at my timer and apologized for taking longer than what he had said it would.

My question is, if he hadn’t seen me timing him, how long would it really have taken him to bring our meal? Seeing how it took 10 minutes for him to even come by our table and acknowledge us, I cannot have imagined him doing as quick of a job as he did.

I tried my experiment in secret the next time I dined out  at La Bocca on Mill Avenue in Tempe. I had been there before so I had a positive attitude going into our meal. I ordered yet again another pizza and my meal didn’t get delivered to me until 18 minutes had passed. That seemed unreal after my experience at True Food where the waiter had told me that it would take 12 minutes maximum to cook a pizza.

So my suggestion for all of you readers out there…Time your waiters or challenge them, for all they know you could be blogging about your dining experience for all of the virtual world to read…or really just JMC 417 students:)

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3 Responses to How long should you wait for your meal while dining out?

  1. jmetz says:

    I am sorry, but I actually laughed a little because I can totally relate! Like we discusses, we both went on cruises this break that were amazing. My friends and I actually got their contact information after so we can keep in touch. I learned that our head waiter was from India and hasn’t seen his wife in months because he is trying so hard to provide for her. The 18 girls and I learned his life story, as well as the assistant waiter’s. They knew us, we knew them. This would, most likely, never happen in America unless you have been going to the restaurant for years. Our waiters cared about getting to know us, even though our gratuities were pre-paid. I also liked how you timed your waiters when you came back to the states. I will definitely try that next time I am out!

  2. hmick says:

    I agree that on cruises the servers make an effort to know you and know what you like and don’t like but that is part of the cruise experience. Being a server for seven years, I have definitely made an effort to know my “regulars” but trying to create that experience with EVERY table is a bit far-fetched. It was definitely easier for me to relate to my customers when I worked at breakfast restaurant because most of the people who come out for breakfast are friendly and just want to have a nice breakfast. Now, I work at a bar/restaurant and have seen another side of people who go out to eat. There are definitely a lot of things that can affect the amount of time you have to wait for your food or drink that may not be your servers fault. As long as your server is upfront and communicates with the customer, I believe that everyone can have a good dining out experience.

  3. rnettleship says:

    Very interesting. My question is… can the waiter or waitress control how quickly the food comes out? If so, do they rush the chef or how do they get the food to come out quicker?

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