Friday, January 02, 2015

Restaurant Serving Times: 2014 Review

Kind of a sad day for me, personally. I've stopped maintaining my long standing "By the Numbers" Google Doc filled with personal life statistics. "By the Numbers" actually dates all the way back to my profile on AOL Instant Messenger over 10 years ago, and I continued it here via a Google Doc linked over there on the right under "The Good Stuff". (That link is now gone.)

In case you were wondering if being the parent of two young children would interfere with all of my obsessive stat-keeping, the answer is...well, yes and no. I still have plenty of interest in tracking my travel, bicycling distance, driving habits, curling games, and so on. But, I've moved most of that out of "By the Numbers" and into separate Google Spreadsheets, most of which I'd rather not publish on the web. (Having kids + our house getting robbed last year = me being less willing to personal stuff on the web, even meaningless statistics.) For most of its life, "By the Numbers" was the primary location where I stored a lot of my statistics, but after I started moving things into separate Google Spreadsheets, that made "By the Numbers" just another additional page for me to maintain, one that I assumed nobody really looked at regularly anymore anyway, plus the fact that I'm perpetually tired and don't really feel like it anymore, so I cleaned up the remnants of "By the Numbers" and then nuked it.

But, one long standing statistical practice I'm NOT stopping any time soon is restaurant serving times. When it comes to traditional "sit down" restaurants, from "what's your order" to "here's your food", how long does each restaurant take? I've been doing this for over 20 years now, and I'm going to keep timing restaurants for the rest of my life, darn it. Even if we don't go out to eat as much as we used to. (Only 21 times in 2014, the lowest in any year since I started the spreadsheet in 2004.) And, I am still sharing my restaurant serving times to the world, linked from the "Good Stuff" menu over there on the right. (Also, here.) 2014 just came to an end, so let's see who won!

It was Lexington Barbecue, again. 2 minutes, 41 seconds. That follows a time of 2:53 in 2013, also best of the year, and gives Lexington Barbecue two of the top three spots all-time. I kind of have to make it a point to go there every year as long as they keep serving fast, so there's no end to Lexington Barbecue's dominance in sight, right?

Well...maybe. You see, each of the two times I've gone to Lexington Barbecue, it was with friends, not with Amber and the family. Like me, my friends always order barbecue. But barbecue pork isn't Amber's thing as much, so when she goes to a barbecue restaurant, she usually orders chicken fingers. If you ask me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with ordering chicken fingers at any restaurant - any restaurant - but the thing is, chicken fingers take longer to serve than barbecue, and that basically ruins the barbecue restaurant's chance at a top time. (This is why Stamey's has been unable to even come close to their record time of 1:35 each of the times we've returned. I don't remember what Amber ordered when we went in 2008, but it couldn't have been chicken fingers, right? All I know is, when we went this year, it was chicken fingers.)

So, this year, I'm giving Lexington Barbecue their stiffest challenge yet: I'm bringing my family with me, and Amber is ordering chicken fingers. (Yes, it's on the menu.) And God only knows what Marla will end up ordering. So if Lexington Barbecue is going to three-peat in 2015, they'll have to earn it. Good luck, suckers!

At the other end of the speed spectrum, we have the slowest time of 2014: 34 minutes, 9 seconds, at Wild Wing Cafe in Wilmington, NC. This was a rather large party (20+), and that's usually what happens when you have a large party. The next slowest time of 2014 was under 25 minutes.

Other fast notables: Two-time champion Ideal Hot Dog of Toledo finished second in 2014, with a time of 7:44. All-time leader Stamey's also went below 10 minutes (8:02), as did breakfast joint Brigs (8:15), and Bob Evans in Durham (8:46). Out of the 38 documented times I've been to Bob Evans (by far the most out of any restaurant), that time was 3rd fastest. Bob Evans of Winchester, VA also posted an 18:08 earlier in the year.


Walter Kolczynski said...

I think you mean 2 min 41 sec.

Chris Allen said...

Ah yes. Having kids also means I don't really proofread anymore either.