A few years back, Consider The Sauce was bemused to note the rise of the Deliberate Wait.
This involves certain eateries in the CBD and elsewhere deliberately and on purpose running their no-booking operations with built-in waiting time for incoming customers.
This way, the reasoning seems to go, the punters can spend some time cooling their heels – in the bar spending money, on the stairway and even out on the street – in such a way as to sharpen their appreciation for just how lucky they will be when they eventually get to eat in such fabulously fashionable establishments.
Or so it’s always seemed to me.
But nothing to do with us, our friends, our readers and eating in the west.
Lately, though, I’m not so sure.
Stories of extended wait times and queuing, many of them provided first-hand to CTS or witnessed by ourselves, continue to arise.
Mostly, though, they’re concerned with different kinds of delay than the “make ’em wait – we’ll build hipster cache” school of thought.
Though I suspect the hour-and-more wait times to get into a certain new CBD dumpling joint certainly fall into that category.
I have a friend who waited more than hour for food at a barbecue festival.
More recently I’ve been told that wait times for the new Willy Friday night food trucks extended, in some cases, beyond 40 minutes.
Surely anything beyond 10 minutes for a bowl of noodles or some such from a food truck defeats the very purpose and ethos and fun of food trucks?
On a more prosaic level, I regularly spy weekend groups of people waiting on the street for tables at a groovy inner west cafe, the coffee of which I find undrinkable.
And over in Kensington, I regularly see a dozen or more people waiting in the foyer or on the street for a table at Laksa King – early evening and early in the week.
Terrific food, indeed, but …
As Bennie has pointed out, we do indeed sometimes wait for a table – but only very, very rarely does that extend beyond waiting for a recently vacated table to be cleared.
Mostly, we’re very happy for ourselves and our fellow westies that waiting – be it for five minutes or five days – is simply uncalled for.
“If one place is busy, go next door” is our default rule of thumb.
Last weekend, I visited one of my very favourite places only to find it more crowded than I had ever before witnessed.
“Uh oh,” I thought. “I’m going to be waiting forever …”
However the staff assured me I’d get my lunch within 15 minutes – that’s OK then, I can live with that!
As things eventuated, I got my goodies in 10 minutes.
Later, I asked the co-proprietor – a man with much experience not only in running this particular cafe/shop but also of coping with the demands of markets and festivals – about long wait times.
For him it’s simple: It’s all about prep work – or lack of it.
And he stressed how important it is – he wants customers to return.
So while this kind of madness continues to pass us by, I still do wonder about whether punters who cop it have some sort of masochistic streak and whether some operators simply haven’t got their act together.
Either in terms of getting customers seated or in providing them food in a timely manner …