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Haroot's avatar

Do you believe restaurants purposely lie about wait times?

Asked by Haroot (2118points) February 15th, 2010

So I took my girlfriend to Red Lobster for Valentine’s Day. Got to the podium, and was told it was a two and a half hour wait. We had nothing else to do so we sat around. Actual wait ended up being a half hour or so. Very pleasing.

Anyway I originally thought he just told me two hours and thirty minutes as a large approximation. Giving the parties before me all a large amount of time to finish their meal, though majority finished prior to.

But then I began thinking: Sure a lot of business is great, but a packed house is a lot of stress on the staff. Waiters/Waitresses are taking on additional tables, service tends to be a tad slower, chefs have to cook meals back to back rather rushed, etc… One way to lower this mass of customers is to stick a large wait at the door. Not only to make the workload more manageable by giving the staff so recuperation time but will scare away some customers while keeping the ones who really want to eat there (Me.) In addition, if you are expecting to wait a good two and a half hours and instead get in after say forty-five minutes, you’re more pleased then the guy who was told he had to wait fourty-five minutes and did indeed wait that long.

I don’t know, I’m just rambling. Your thoughts?

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25 Answers

theichibun's avatar

They don’t lie. Why would you lie to say that it’s a 2.5 hour wait? That’s going to make people go elsewhere.

A good host/hostess can look at the tables, how long they’ve been there, and get a pretty good estimate of how long the wait will be.

They’re also not going to leave tables empty just to make the workload easier.

They do usually overestimate. But it’s not lying. It’s saying “I’m 100% sure that we can have you at a table in X amount of time.”

Haroot's avatar

Haha I figure. I’m just paranoid as usual I guess. Black Helicopters.

UScitizen's avatar

Sure, some lie. some don’t. If they lie, it would be in under stating the wait. They want you to hang around.

Cruiser's avatar

I’m sure the restaurant was packed and the hostess was probably overwhelmed. Hard to gauge wait times with double the business for the night. Hope you had a good dinner.

Chikipi's avatar

Many people put down their name, but they end up leaving to go eat somewhere else which causes a reduced time of waiting. I worked at a restaurant when I was younger and it was not uncommon to quote two and half hours especially on holidays like Valentines Day. The quote was normally right on time.

Ame_Evil's avatar

Calculating wait times at restaurants is not an exact science.

Vunessuh's avatar

I think some may lie, but I’ve never heard of a restaurant adding an hour onto their wait time. That’s ridiculous. I can see them decreasing their wait time just so you’ll stay. In doing so, if they told you 30 minutes (when really it was an hour), once you’ve waited for 30 minutes and it ends up being longer, you figure you’ve already waited that long so you might as well wait a little more. If they told you 30 minutes as opposed to an hour, it makes it more worth it for you to wait.

drhat77's avatar

The wait staff works on tips, so they wouldn’t mind all the extra work, especially on Valentine’s day when don jaun doesn’t want to look like a cheap skate so he tips generously.

cookieman's avatar

Again with the Red Lobster!!!

That’s two questions this week that reference their seafood goodness.

I am sooo craving Red Lobster

CharlieGirl's avatar

Yes,I think so.They wouldn’t want their customers getting upset for hearing the truth.

limeaide's avatar

I assume they lie to thin the crowd and it’s very pleasing to those that end up staying when they are seated much sooner than expected.

thriftymaid's avatar

No. They would always make your wait shorter than they think. For every 15 minutes you wait, it makes you more likely NOT to leave. That’s for a normal person. I, on the other hand, would probably not wait more than 20 minutes unless there was something fun to do during the wait..

Seek's avatar

This question has been thoroughly answered, so I have no problem asking…

…who in their right mind goes out to eat on Valentine’s Day without a reservation?

Vunessuh's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr LMAO. Sounds like you answered your own question. Nobody in their right mind would do that. Keyword: right.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Did you go to the one in Times Square, NYC – cause that’s where we went and they said 2–3 hours wait time – they told the couple behind us 4–5 so we figured they’re bullshitting and waited it out – it was about 45 min.

Shae's avatar

I owned a restaurant at one time (when I was married), if we overestimated it was not to get people to leave. We never wanted people to leave. We overestimated so that guests would not get angry when 30 minutes came and went and there was still no table available. Everyone is happy when the wait is shorter than expected and never happy when it is longer.

neverawake's avatar

Yeah, the Cracker Barrel around here said I had to wait about 20 or 25 minutes before a seat was available and it took like 50 minutes all together. That’s why I gave my waitress only a dollar tip.

Vunessuh's avatar

@neverawake Makes sense because it was your waitress’s fault after all, right?

Shae's avatar

@neverawake it was not your waitress fault on how quickly you were seated. Your waitress is taxed for every table she is seated. If you don’t tip her a reasonable amount she will actually lose money waiting on you.

neverawake's avatar

@Vunessuh @Shae I know it wasn’t really her fault, but hey, i had to take my anger out on someone right?

Seek's avatar


How about the salaried manager? Perhaps suggesting that he instruct his host(ess) to be a little more conservative with the waiting time?

neverawake's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr ok ok, you guys should know that i was kidding about the whole thing. besides, i don’t even tip the waitresses, my parents do. haha gotcha ya

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr red lobster doesn’t take reservations

Seek's avatar

Seriously? Weird.

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