You meet your new Tinder match for dinner, you both self-consciously order something small with only one beverage, and you end up spending the next hour or two totally hitting it off -- all the while not ordering any additional food or drink. If that sounds familiar, you might be the kind of customer restaurants have grown to hate in recent years, thanks to the rise of online dating.
With Tinder reportedly responsible for creating as many as 1.3 million dates per week alone, the sharp increase in blind dates resulting from such sites and services is having a big effect on restaurants' bottom lines, and in some cases, changing the way restaurants operate, according to a report by The Washington Post.
As you may have guessed by now, first dates consisting of little food and only a couple of drinks can sometimes be bad for business, especially when that valuable table you're sitting at could have gone to a party that orders appetizers, entrees, and much more than the single beer you end up nursing for an hour. Restaurants, after all, want to make money.
You've also probably been that person who sits at a table drinking water until your date arrives. Sound about right? Well, apparently restaurants hate that, too. Oh, and as the report suggests, don't even get restaurant workers started on the many people who show up for a blind date, only to spin on their heel and leave when they see who they're meeting for the first time (people who do that actually deserve to be decried as awful, though).
The WaPo report nicely sums up the issue: "What’s happening in restaurants is just a trickle-down effect of what has happened to dating." Basically, as more people opt for inexpensive dates involving a few drinks instead of settling in for a pricey multi-course dinner, restaurants are being forced to no longer rely on the typical business model of parties eating, drinking, and leaving so the next group of people can do the same. It's worth noting, however, that the National Restaurant Association doesn't have any data on exactly how dating has impacted the industry.
Some restaurant owners, like Ashok Bajaj in Washington D.C., are replacing booth seating with more tables designed for two people, which allows the restaurant to seat more more couples, per the report. Obviously, not all restaurants are complaining about the high volume of such dates, because after all, some business is better than no business.
And if the date goes well enough, maybe you'll return years later for a big meal to celebrate your anniversary, where it all started. That is, if serial daters don't completely destroy the place.