Rubenesque Restaurants: Study Finds Customers Order More Food and Drink From Heavier Servers

180px-Peter_Paul_Rubens_004There is a fascinating study out of the scientific journal Environment & Behavior that found that diners order significantly more food and drink when served by an overweight waiter or waitress. It appears that a Rubenesque servers with more waistline are better for the bottom line of restaurants.

Tim Döring and Brian Wansink found the pronounced difference in eating behavior in the December 28th publication. Their researchers visited 60 restaurants and observed a total of 497 interactions between diners and servers. A statistical analysis of this data found that the higher a server’s body mass index (BMI), the more meals the diners ordered, regardless of their own body type.

The difference was impressive. Diners were four times more likely to order dessert and alcoholic drinks when their server had a BMI that was over 25.

That presents an interesting counterpoint to restaurants and bars like Hooters that have been sued over barring heavy servers. Of course, these establishments may have a different dynamic and expectation in its clientele. However, if the study is accurate, it would appear that most restaurants might do better with a more substantial serving staff.

Source: Psy Post

23 thoughts on “Rubenesque Restaurants: Study Finds Customers Order More Food and Drink From Heavier Servers

  1. Well yeah, if my waiter looks like some guy off the cast of Baywatch, I’d order a salad and a lime water, because I would be embarrassed to order a triple bacon cheeseburger and a banana split. But if it’s Chris Christie taking my order, what the Hell, I’ll get all of the above, plus some nachos and an extra large chocolate shake. And don’t forget the whipped cream!

  2. Perhaps, just, perhaps, the overweight and/or obese servers have, over time, adapted by developing more accommodating and charming personalities, where that development has managed to translate into selling and moving more product? In a culture where one’s appearance and physique often serve to dictate and/or restrict opportunities, it is easy to understand that these servers may have, by necessity, developed a variety of skills and abilities superior to those found in their thinner counterparts. Just a thought.

    Yeah. That and what TinEar said. No raised eyebrows when you sheepishly order the $8.00 massive slice of cheesecake after completing a meal that could’ve fed a small village. Who wants intimidation when he straps on the ole feed bag?

  3. I find this result to be a surprise. I guess I am an odd ball. When I have an obese server, I tend to have thoughts along the lines of, “I am going to look like this person if I eat here.” So I order less. In fact, there is a restaurant nearby that I tend to avoid because nearly all their servers are obese. The study does not really look at that issue. How many people do not go into the restaurant because of their prior experience with obese servers?

  4. The statement by the chubby waiter is, “Go on, you know you want it.” The statement by the svelte waiter is, “20 calories in the soda, 350 calories in the bread you’re munching, 1600 calories in the double-double all you can eat American delight, and so on.”

    Waiters and Waitresses can be influential, in fact that is one of the ingredients of the job.

  5. At Hooters the diners may eat less, but they may drink more. The economic benefit to the store is more profit on a glass of wine than on a piece of cheesecake. So drink up and enjoy the double breasted views.

  6. The comments so far as almost as fascinating as the this interesting post. Regarding the comments, I could not give a rat’s ass what the person taking my order thinks about what I’m ordering, thinks about me, or thinks about anything for that matter. I don’t want any chit chat. I don’t want them to be my friend. I don’t want them to be a salesperson, trying to sell me half the menu, a trait in many chain restaurants, which I try to avoid. The server should be professional. They should know the menu and specials well. They should not ask 100 questions. Have you noticed w/ corporate businesses of all types that staff are trained to ask vapid questions, in the guise of them caring? It’s horsesh!t!

    Now, you might think from my comments that I’m a difficult person to serve. Well, there are many servers where I regularly dine and drink that would tell you I’m one of their best customers. You see I am knowledgeable, having grown up in a restaurant family. When they are slammed I am patient, often telling them to take care of other folks until they catch up. If they make a mistake, I deal w/ it w/ humor. If there is a problem w/ the food I direct my criticism to the kitchen, not the server. And, I am a very generous tipper, usually 30% or more. But, you have to be good. If a meal is spectacular, I’ll also tip the kitchen.

  7. I guess I fall into the Nick philosophy of dining or eating out. I don’t care what the waiter thinks of what I am ordering. I certainly don’t give a rip about the calorie count of the items and in fact sometimes, if I do look at that on the menu decide to go with the higher calorie item because it probably tastes better, has more butter, fat and other taste enhancing ingredients,……. and what the heck anyway…I’m eating out. AND I am paying for the food and the service.

    As bam bam said, the perhaps more pleasant demeanor of the waiter/waitress has more to do with it. Wait staff that are overly intrusive, hovering, constantly interrupting you while you have a mouth full of food to ask if you are enjoying the meal are just doing what they have been trained to do but PULEEZE….can’t you see that I’m eating here. like Dustin Hoffman as Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy:-)

    On the other hand, waiters who walk through the room and never look at the tables around them, are just as bad. Like when you need a refill on your water or want to pay the check and have obviously finished. Pay attention!!

    It is very very hard to be a good waiter/waitress and like Nick, we tip well for the good service.

    There is also a difference between being an obese waddling waiter who can barely huff and puff through the restaurant and being just a bit overweight or what in the good old days was called pleasingly plump.

    Personally, I go with the more pleasant personality theory. Someone who makes you feel comfortable, welcome and at ease.

  8. Interesting post. I suspect there are a number of different dynamics in play when people are eating out. Some folks don’t much care what the waitstaff thinks, but others fall prey to the same pressures that make them susceptible to the salesman line “well, if you’d like to see something less expensive….”

    Quite a bit of the population is afraid – consciously or subconsciously – to be judged, even by waitstaff. It’s an interesting take on the power dynamic between customer and service person, to be sure.

    And ditto on Nick’s and Barkin’s recommendation – tip well for good service!

  9. You have to be cautious about declaring causation. And how much money did we spend on this study??? Was this funded by a grant? Because I can think of more useful ways to spend research funds.

    Restaurants like Hooters use a business model that sells sexual attraction. The food is supposed to be mediocre, so you go to see pretty girls in skimpy outfits. I assume the clientele would be, on average, younger than, say, the diners at Denny’s.

    You have to look at other factors associated with the BMI of the waitstaff. I assume that BMI would be average for servers unless they worked at places like casinos, trendy restaurants, or sexy venues like Hooters. Those venues would attract younger, and fitter, patrons.

    On a side note, I believe everyone should have a service job that deals with the public, such as waiting tables, at some point in their early career. It helps you appreciate what they do. It is such a turnoff to see anyone abusing waitstaff, being unkind, rude, impatient, or a bad tipper. You get taxed on what the government estimates your tips are. So if you get stiffed, you actually lose money on that table. I waited tables at one point while I was in college. I enjoyed unlocking some of the more difficult customers – finding out what they wanted and helping them just enjoy their meal. There was a bodybuilding couple that always ordered the same thing, and they didn’t like to wait. I would see them heading over, put their special order in, and have their food ready minutes after they sat down, drinks already on the table. I had one man who complained incessantly to other servers. He had a stressful job and just wanted to unwind. He hated having to try to get someone’s attention. I’d keep one eye on him, keep him stocked in hot tea, and made him feel that his comfort mattered. He would leave if I wasn’t working. Some people want to relax and unwind, some want out of there like they have a pit crew, and no one likes hovering.

  10. I don’t see how you can stay ov erweight long if you’re doing your job right as a waiter. The skinniest I ever was was the summer I waitressed – in spite of having to show up an hour early to eat a delicious meal (German) with the chef and other staff and stay later for the obligatory glass of sparkling to celebrate a hard day or night’s work. I am trying to think of a heavy server at the restaurants we go to. But I can’t.

  11. Riesling, Always good to see you commenting here. Happy New Year. You’re correct, waiting tables is a real calorie burner. So, fat waitstaff are consuming LOTS of calories.

  12. This is an amusing tale.

    What has it got to do with a nation that is “auguring in” after passing the constitutional “tipping point” with an executive branch in “overreach” seeking monarchy, a “judicial branch” cavalierly expanding the collectivist state while shredding the constitution and a legislative branch too timid and acquiescent to impeach; to do its constitutional duty?

    Why is it on the blog of the preeminent American “constitutional scholar?”

    Has anyone noticed, as but one example of anathema and malfeasance, the FBI Director has not yet recommended indictment of Hillary Clinton for precisely the same crime that General Petraeus was convicted of, mishandling of classified material, and the White House has “floated” plans to constrain the AG from indicting?

    This is far beyond the pale.

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” – Edmund Burke

    I am certain that a study of the influence of the obese is a high priority.

  13. It does not matter who fills the dog bowl. I do not eat all the chow. I leave some for later or for others.

  14. I particularly like the Petreus Comment. People in the US are judged according to comments of TV shows than any facts that may or may not arise and standards depend on what people are told is the buzz word of the day or even hour. After the events of New Years eve it will not matter. Suspicion of terrorism has been joined by suspicion of support of terrorists and terrorism – the only people excluded work in Washington DC. This time they came for the whole nation and still nobody cared.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s