Happy new year and welcome to 2011 with Lamb’s Ears and Honey! I really look forward to continuing and expanding my window for the world on the wonderful food culture that is enjoyed here in Australia and South Australia in particular.
We have just returned from taking the family on holidays to what used to be a sleepy little coastal village just an hours drive from Adelaide. As is the way with the world, we weren’t the only ones who liked it and the summer months now find our quiet little spot a parking nightmare with thronging streets, tacky shops and an over-crowded beach. But, for me at least, one of the biggest disadvantages of this massive holiday population explosion is the logistical gymnastics required to get a meal that I don’t have to prepare myself!
The purchase of greasy, but satisfying, take-away’s requires pre-ordering by phone (thus necessitating knowing the phone number) or preparedness to take part in a lengthy and time-consuming queue – often in the hot sun. You can forget about spontaneous, leisurely, fun and wine filled dinners at the local gourmet spots as tables at anywhere actually worth eating are at a premium and require booking ahead, sometimes days ahead, and the selection of a sitting time – 6pm or 8pm. Getting a table at one of the popular venues does not necessarily get you out of the whole queuing thing either – and this leads me to one of my biggest beefs with some establishments.
In an effort to reduce overheads and staff costs, many cafe’s and bistro’s require the diner to line up and place their own orders for food and drink. Some also require the hapless punters to then collect these as well. In an increasing number of these establishments, the price does not reflect the extra contribution by the customer and leaves me wondering just whether or not value for money is being received. But what really bugs me is the fact that this is just poor business practice and very short-sighted on the part of the owners. We ate at two such restaurants while we were on our holidays and in both instances the queues to order were very long for the whole time we were dining – up to 20 people at a time were either bunched up at the door, obstructing it, or trailing through the tables irritating the seated diners and suggesting a cynical disregard and disrespect for ones customers.
More obvious to me than this, however, is the loss of further income that this practice incurs. On both the recent occasions that we were at this type of restaurant we had intended to order desserts and more drinks, but were completely put off by the prospect of standing around for an extra 10-15 minutes to get them, deciding instead to indulge ourselves less inconveniently elsewhere. I’d hazard a guess and suggest that we are not the first to think this way and wonder what that might add up to, in dollar terms, at the end of the evening when the takings are being counted. Think about it folks – lets say a conservative estimate of 5-10 tables of four or six people, multiplied by the average cost of a dessert or an extra drink, compared to the cost of an extra person waiting tables for 2 or 3 hours at roughly $20 per hour for wages?
It doesn’t strike me as rocket science.
What do you think?[mc4wp_form id="16750"]