Customer Patience With Restaurants Is Fading

By: James Flippin · July 11, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Declining Service

The restaurant experience has gone through several dramatic variations over the past few years as restaurants have worked through pandemic-era problems. Through 2021 and 2022, customers were understanding regarding inconvenient changes like delivery-only menus, slow service, and increased prices. In 2023, diner patience may be overcooked.

In a recent survey, 42% of diners reported frustration with understaffed eaters and insufficient service. But they’re not the only ones frustrated with the state of the restaurant industry. Even with the pandemic past its end date, restaurants are still having trouble hiring and keeping talented waitstaff, cooks, and dishwashers.

Staffing Shortages

While the situation has gotten slightly better in recent months, many restaurants remain understaffed. In the fast-food industry, most locations are operating with 10% fewer hourly employees than in 2019.

Even full-service restaurants are having trouble hiring employees. Staffing at these locations is currently 7% below pre-pandemic levels.

Restaurant owners say applicants often don’t show up for interviews. And, in the rare cases they do manage to attract new talent, those workers only stick around for a short time before jumping ship. For customers, fewer employees almost always leads to longer wait times and lower-quality service.

Heard, Chef

The question of how to meet diner expectations has always been a tricky one, and it may be more pressing now than ever. However, one chef believes there’s a one-word answer: “professionalization.”

Celebrity chef Rick Bayless believes that, despite the number of people that work in the industry, restaurant work is still by and large viewed as a “gig” rather than a career. By retooling operations to make restaurant work feel more like a destination than a pit stop, restaurants may be able to reverse the trend for good.

Bayless has accomplished this at his restaurants by instituting a 20% service charge, in addition to the typical line for an optional tip. This enables his eateries to pay around $30 an hour to employees. Meanwhile, other restaurants are investing in their tech rather than workers, implementing time-saving measures like QR-code menus or card-only payments.

Whatever the ultimate answer may be, one thing is certain: there will be more dramatic changes on the menu for restaurants, until diners decide to stay in their seats.

Looking for more stories like this? Check out On the Money — SoFi’s one-stop-shop for news, trends, and tips!

Check it out

Please understand that this information provided is general in nature and shouldn’t be construed as a recommendation or solicitation of any products offered by SoFi’s affiliates and subsidiaries. In addition, this information is by no means meant to provide investment or financial advice, nor is it intended to serve as the basis for any investment decision or recommendation to buy or sell any asset. Keep in mind that investing involves risk, and past performance of an asset never guarantees future results or returns. It’s important for investors to consider their specific financial needs, goals, and risk profile before making an investment decision.
No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this content.
Communication of SoFi Wealth LLC an SEC Registered Investment Advisor
SoFi isn’t recommending and is not affiliated with the brands or companies displayed. Brands displayed neither endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks and service marks referenced are property of their respective owners.

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender