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Study of Rate of Service at a Bar

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Kaitlyn Lent

SOC 366- Sociological Research Methods

Short Paper #2

        Despite what survey and anecdotal evidence suggests, the incidence of discrimination against customers in small consumer markets, stores, or restaurants, contribute to a limited amount of studies that exist to identify how many people are treated unequally in these types of atmospheres.  Caitlin Myer provides evidence in her field study of wait times in the Boston area pertaining to coffee shops and their unequal wait times upon male and female customers.  The evidence Myer found suggested that female customers waited an average of twenty seconds longer for their orders over a male customer.  Myer also found that the difference in wait times are contrary to the female employees and how busy the coffee shop is at that time of the person placing their order.  In my experiment, I went to a bar-restaurant on Main Street in Patchogue, Perabell Foodbar.  Perabell serves American cuisine and has an eloquent crowd which is constantly flowing in and out of their doors.  Perabell has a bar that seats around twenty people and has plenty of space to create a decent bar crowd, usually on the weekends at later times of the evening creating a crowd that is about three waves deep (a busy place).  This restaurant caters to usually an “adult” crowd, around the ages of mid 30’s and up; in no way is this a “younger” person’s bar. However, there are a few younger people that float in and out, but don’t usually stay long.  I conducted my study on a Saturday night at 7PM until 10PM, prime bar time.

        In my experiment, I hypothesized that men will be served faster than women at a bar, but only with a female server.  I feel this is truthful but only from personal experience.  Most female bartenders aren’t interested in serving other females because there is usually uneasy tension between females for unknown and trivial reasons, leaving them to believe they will not be tipped as well as she would with a male patron.  My second hypothesis is men will be served slower than women at a bar, but only with a male server.  I feel this is because of the same reason as the previous hypothesis in that most male servers know they won’t be receiving the full gratuity or more than what the full tip is because there is no interest in one another’s needs (when speaking about heterosexual relationships).  Most male bartenders would rather serve a female and make sure their “charm is on” at an ultimately higher level than that of serving a male.  Once a female is impressed, she will most likely keep coming back to that same bartender that made her laugh or who called her pretty, eventually resulting in better and additional tips for the male bartender.  My last hypothesis is women with a significant other will be served slower by any server at a bar, male or female.  I feel this is expected because when a server sees someone without a significant other, they know they can use their personality to hopefully create a friendship with the person so they can be a reoccurring bar guest or continue to try and find that specific server because of their new bond.  If someone is in a relationship, it is hard enough trying to turn on the charm and become charismatic when there is someone alongside of them already telling them things they want to hear.  So instead, most couples will be over looked and paid no attention to.

        While at Perabell, I observed 32 people; 17 female and 15 male.  At around 7PM, there weren’t too many guests sitting at the bar or going to the bar for service but when there was someone looking for amenity in the earlier part of the night, everyone seemed to be treated “equally” in the amount of time they waited for either drinks or recognition of their presence.  When time started moving closer to the later evening and the bar crowd became denser, there were more noticeable discrepancies in wait times between males and females and the servers who were helping them.  At this time, males seemed to wait 11 seconds longer when waiting to be served by a male server over a female waiting to be served by a male server.  When making males their drinks, male bartenders took a longer amount of time to make their drinks as well- no matter the complexity of the drink.  Whether the drink was a vodka-soda with lime, or a Dark and Stormy, the differences in wait time were conspicuously obvious especially when observing the male bartenders “dilly-dally” while in the process of making the drink.  Either talking to the other bartenders, or other patrons (usually females) asking them what they’d like to drink while he’s supposed to be shaking up another (male) patron’s drink.  Along side of this, female servers seemed to hold the same motto when serving other females.  While the wait time on a male bartender serving a male was only 11 seconds, a female bartender serving a female was either 32 seconds or not served at all and entirely looking passed her until a male bartender came around and provided them with service. Many female patrons also seemed to know this situation already and immediately would bring themselves to the side with the male bartender.

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