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"]
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
I don’t particularly like lining up for things and prefer table service if the service is good. If you have to line up and pay and collect your meal, the prices should reflect that.
Sarah @ For the Love of Food
I don’t like having to line up to order but don’t mind too much if it’s relatively cheap, a short wait and if the meals are then brought to the table – I’d really hate the kind of situation you’re describing here with the long wait and the line-up trailing through the tables. I agree with you and Lorraine that the price should reflect this inconvenience!
This is the first year I will not be locked into going away in school holidays. It will be a luxury to enjoy beach spots when school has gone back without the crowds from now on in.
Hi Amanda and Happy New Year to you and the family. Love to know where this little holiday place is, looks a bit like down south to me but then I don’t get to many beach holidays these days so it could be anywhere I guess! Sounds way too difficult to eat out to me and like Kate, we can stay clear of going away in school holidays too. Unfortunately, this is not the case for a lot of people so perhaps your readers can suggest nearby spots which have good restaurants who do give full service even if they are rushed off their feet at this time of the year. Problem still is the fact that they will be very popular and booking ahead mandatory. Interesting story – now we need some of those establishments to read it!!
Sounds like you were dining at MacDonalds Amanda! I hope next holidays you find a spot that makes your last one seem like a bad dream! I suffer from a ‘fast food’ husband who I am still trying to educate about the finer points of Gastronomy! He will happily eat at a pie shop while I head down the street to find a gourmet deli. Thouroughly enjoying your Lambs Ears Blogs. 🙂
Lining up for food under any circumstances is a put off for me…, maybe (just maybe) for a great fish ‘n chips that shunts everyone through really quickly so we can go sit on the beach & eat as the gods intended… BUT…., absolutely NOT for a restaurant. Won’t have it,don’t like it…. if its that busy then probably the wait staff & kitchens are run off their feet & have no time to cook or serve with any sort of individual attention to their tables so ‘why pay ’em??’
Lining up is a death knell for a good hospitality venue worth their salt – they are far better to insist on reservations only & doing the job properly.
Anna now steps quietly down from soap box.
We recently ate at the hotel Elliot, near the railway line and you described the experience very well. More like a licensed Myers cafeteria.
Later that week after an exhausting working day I fronted the restaurant / takeaway over the road with the idea of a nice takeaway pizza and some beer on the balcony of the beachhouse. Bugger me if they didn’t have a nearly empty joint at 6pm and a vacant outdoor area.
To cap it off they had a blackboard special of rump with prawns and sauce on top. Table service, a glass of wine and a book- nearly as good as home !
Regrettably I don’t know what the lesson is in that but out of school hols is my first pick of a winner in the seaside stakes in dining. After being confined to school hols in a previous working life it is my prime joy to go away in the first week of February. Take the kids too . You can teach them to dine properly.
That is a bit of dampener on your holiday. I’m not a fan of lining up either, (unless super cheap.) With two little kids it’s just something else to juggle.
Lorraine & Sarah -agreed. The prices should reflect the lack of service, but often don’t.
Kate – we won’t be going in January again – or, at least, not until very late in the month.
Judy – it was at Pt. Elliot, so your guess is spot on!
Michelle – I’m glad you are enjoying it, Michelle. I am partial to a pie at times, too, but it has to be a very good one!
Anna – there is also a fish and chip place at this particular spot which has lovely fish and chips – and a huge queue at this time of year!
David – as I said to Kate, we won’t make this mistake again.
Brydie – if you are on your own, with little kids in tow it is even more difficult to keep one eye on them and hold your place in the line.
I hate lining up for service. I have only come across it at the surf clubs up here, although I’m sure it happens.
I wouldn’t mind queuing up if it’s a cafeteria, with prices to match 🙂
It seems that business owners are out to make as much money as possible in a short time. Sadly, it happens everywhere.
Corrine/Frock & Roll
I’m definitely not a fan of lining up but I’ve found it to be even worse in Europe!
Barbara – I’m with you!
Ana – I guess my point is that I doubt that it is really cost effective in the long run, given the potential amount of orders that walk out the door.
Corrine – I was in Italy and France 2 years ago and the only place that we lined up at were cafe’s, and only some of them. Perhaps the idea has caught on since we were there!