In the last few years I’ve noticed a reduction in service quality in mid-priced restaurants, and I lay the blame on takeaways.
I’m sure that takeaways aren’t the only cause, but from a seated diner’s perspective I’ve noticed a few problems.
The first is tables reserved for, or taken up by Uber Eats (and other) delivery drivers.
Scruffy attire, not wearing a mask properly, or at all, while waiting, and talking on the phone.
The second is the stream of people coming in and going up to the counter. The constant opening and closing of the door makes about a third of the place drafty to say the least. A recent trend is these people breezing through the restaurant with no mask at all.
The third is the obvious impact on the kitchen, and the flow through impact on diners.
In a recent experience the staff took three phone orders while we were trying to attract the waitress’s attention. We left.
In Whanganui a year or so back, we waited for over an our for mains, while 15 takeaway orders flew out the door. When I complained about the wait, I was told that they have to take these phone orders and they don’t want people to have to wait. I pointed out that they have a restaurant full (literally) of customers waiting. Wouldn’t it be better to focus on serving them first?
On another occasion we were lucky enough to find a park outside a Lower Hutt eatery. Lucky, because we were taking our limping (due to an accident) son out for dinner. A staff member on the curb jumped into the park and signalled for us to not park there because, ‘it was needed for the takeaway drivers’.
I parked down the street, and went and told them they’d just lost a party of four.
Yes, times are tough. Yes, there is competition for these services. Yes, the extra income is welcome.
But I have noticed a change. The restaurants that are doing takeaways are looking emptier and emptier.
Eateries need to choose what business they are in, serving customers who want a good dine-in experience, or people looking to be fed. At the very least, put in place some basic protections for the people who are physically present.
Until they do, I’ll be voting with my feet.