Restaurants are too awkward, says NCIAC

“What sauce would you like?” “Um… what are the choices? Oh there’s a list… um… I’d like… the only one I recognise please.”

Media release

The restaurant experience in Australia is too awkward and this needs to change, according to the National Centre for Inference Assumption and Conjecture.

NCIAC named a number of causes of awkwardness, including ambiguity around whether customers are expected to order at the till or at the table, digital screens changing what product they’re showing as you are looking at them, and a lack of non-awkward standing space for customers waiting for takeaway orders.

NCIAC Restaurantologist Gus Tronomi said that surveys had shown Australians put up with awkward restaurant experiences because it is ‘the norm.’

“It’s silly that in so many restaurants there is no clear place to stand while waiting for a takeaway order, where you’re not in the way of someone else,” said Mr Tronomi.

“I have probably spent years cumulatively telling the customers who entered after me that I am not in the line, and that I have ordered already.

“And sure, it’s nice to have bright screens full of menu items with full colour images tempting me to buy everything available, but when I get to the counter I’ve inevitably forgotten the name of the burger I want, and the screen has rotated to some other thing.”

A survey conducted by NCIAC found that over 80% of participants felt at least a little bit awkward in more than 60% of restaurant experiences.

Tronomi suggested that the best solution to these issues is an increase in awareness, through a standard scientific measurement of awkwardness.

“In the Restaurant Awkwardness Unit measurement, a reading of 1-RAU means that the customer feels really quite comfortable.

“They know exactly what the process is for ordering food, and the restaurant’s ambient noise level is low enough that they don’t have to repeat their order twice.

“At the other end of the scale, a 17-RAU (the maximum) occurs when a customer feels most awkward.

“Perhaps they sat down for ten minutes before realising they had to order at the counter, but on approaching the counter were told to sit back down because the restaurant operated on a table service regimen.

“Of course a 17-RAU rating would not occur if the awkwardness only came from one Area of Restaurant Awkwardness (ARA).

“Perhaps this customer also found that the menu listed food by name only (in French), so they had to ask the waiter for the ingredients of five different dishes before finding one without seafood.

“And to top it all off, perhaps this person ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio, but was brought a glass of Pinot Noir,” said Mr Tronomi.

When asked why 17 was the maximum rating for the Restaurant Awkwardness Unit scale, Tronomi said that 17 was the most awkward number, and declined an opportunity to make further comment.

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