We saw the lines for Uncle Tetsu; we expected it for the long-awaited Seafood City and The Cheesecake Factory; we endured the heat while standing in line for ice cream at Sweet Jesus, Arctic Bites, and Bang Bang Ice Cream and Bakery; and, we all waited eagerly for the Shake Shack pop-up.
But why do we wait? What is it about food that has some of us willing to stand outside during the dog days of summer or coldest days of winter?
At Label 428, we conducted an anonymous survey with Torontonian millennials to ask about their experiences with extensive lineups for food.
There was almost an even split between those who would line up versus those who’d rather not.
“Yes” to Lines
They waited an average of 45 minutes and their top 3 reasons for lining up were:
They were curious about the hype
They tagged along with a foodie friend
They ate at the spot in a different country
“To satisfy my ego knowing I had the food item before most other people.”
When Pablo’s Cheese Tart opened its first Canadian location this past summer, one Torontonian, who had lived in Japan, waited in line hoping to find a familiar taste from her years abroad. Another waited in line with two friends for 45 minutes after hearing about it on blogTO’s Facebook page. Their experiences waiting in line eventually became a story they shared with friends — literally, through Snapchat.
40% of people we surveyed said they’d share the experience of waiting in line on social media.
It’s a proclamation of surviving the wait and reaching the goal: to be a part of the hype and finding the next best thing. (The Cheese Tart Glaze is what got those who waited for Pablo’s).
“No” to Lines
The top 3 reasons were:
They were too impatient
They wanted to wait until the line died down to check it out at a later date
They didn’t consider themselves a “foodie”
“It is a waste of time to line up for over 30 minutes just to try something. I don't need to be the first to try something and I do not mind waiting until the fad dies down. For example, Bang Bang Ice Cream and Bakery had lineups down the street for months and I just waited until the lines disappeared and tried it.”
And while the lineups will eventually die down, these food spots are here to stay. Uncle Tetsu’s, for example, started with only one location in 2015, it has since seen a quick expansion. There are now five locations in the GTA.
We’re a city that embraces new foods wholeheartedly.
If you’re looking for us, find us in line at Laudureé. Now open at Yorkdale.
*Side Note: if one were to ask a concentrated group of food-centric Instagrammers and influencers, the number for yes to lining up would surely spike. Do it for the ‘gram, right?