The Future of Eating Out Is Lining Up (NYT)

For most of our history, standing in a food line has conveyed abject want — bread lines during the Depression and food banks to this day. Today, waiting is a two-tier system, indicating tough times on some blocks, where people still line up based on need, and free time on others, where people line up by choice.

Standing in line provides a nice little one-hour ego boost because it confirms our judgment. We are waiting for the very best bagels. We are in the know. We are even a bit savvier than the people stuck in line behind us. Being here makes us feel special when so much on social media makes us feel worse. The line is an imposed chance to catch our breath, and the closer we get to that order window, the better we feel.

I always associate long queues/lines with America. You so rarely see anything like that here in Europe. Maybe Americans are more interested than we are in “good food”, so are prepared to wait for it. Not me, I’ll take second best rather than wait 30 minutes for a table.


Berlin hipsters (Brooklyn hipsters? who can say, with so many of them having moved there) LOVE standing on line for food. I’ve tried a couple of places (e.g. a popular döner place, a gözleme stand) that were absolutely not worth the hype or the wait, but will gladly wait for the best ice cream in town where the line can be significant, especially on hot summer days :icecream:

I also found out this summer that a hugely popular Xi’an hand pulled noodle place is “all that,” but prefer to order it for takeout or delivery bc I’m too old for this nonsense.

Perhaps more of an age than a cultural / national diff?

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Ha! Clearly you’ve not seen the queue for Fortitude Bakehouse (London).

ETA: I agree with @linguafood – this is likely about generations and age (and a class that can afford to spend their time accordingly-- or want to look as if they can).

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The article touches on a couple of types, but my experience (in nyc anyway) has been that there are a couple of categories of “line waiting”.

Trendy, small restaurants who claimed they wanted to be “fair” to all and especially those in their (small?) neighborhood, and so eschewed all reservations. Well, there comes a line, and buzz, and nototiety. How’s the neighborhood clientele faring? Dunno.

Then there are the cronut-insanity places that feed off the line buzz. Line = free publicity.

Then there are bagel and slice places that are just made that way, no buzz intended.

I have no patience for lines in general, never have. Sometimes I get stuck in one inadvertently. Last time was when I took a kid visitor to pick up a dozen bagels – without looking at the time: boom, Sunday brunchtime line. \

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The craziest lineup I’ve ever seen was outside a Mandarin restaurant on Canada Day.