Restaurant and bar owner complains about customers no longer coming in, says they’re going to places like Wendy’s, Taco Bell instead

@pat__light/TikTok J.J. Gouin/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘Tipping expectations have gotten out of hand’: Restaurant and bar owner complains about customers no longer coming in, says they’re going to places like Wendy’s, Taco Bell instead

'I simply cannot pay $29 for meh pasta.'


Marlin Ramos


Posted on Feb 1, 2024   Updated on Feb 2, 2024, 6:44 pm CST

One restaurant and bar owner shares his frustrations with the way business has not been booming at his locales recently. Commenters say tipping culture, expensive food prices, and bad service are just some of the reasons they have stopped going out to eat.  

In a now-viral TikTok, Pat Light (@pat__light) mentions that he is the owner of five restaurants in Hoboken, New Jersey and that he has noticed a significant dip in his sales. He says he can’t compete with a lot of other food chains that offer more lavish experiences like Carbone or with cheap fast food places like Taco Bell, and that middle-tier restaurants like his are left without much interest from customers.

“Which leaves people like me, people in the middle ground, … kind of in the dust a little bit,” Pat says. “We’re kind of in no man’s land as far as getting people to come and eat. And I can attest to this. We are seeing about 20 to 30% dip in food sales from 2022 to now.”

The video has over 527,000 views and more than 7,000 comments.

@pat__light It is crazy what’s going on in the hospitality industry right now and bars and restaurants are often left in no man’s land right now when it comes to serving food. ##patlight##hobokennj##hoboken##nycfood##restaurant##restaurantowner##jerseycitynj##bartender##hobokengirl ♬ original sound – Pat Light

Pat asks people to let him know why they have chosen to eat out less, and the answers vary.

“I will not pay $18 for hamburger and fries,” mentions one comment.

“I’ve seen many wait staff on these TikToks say if I can’t afford to tip 20-25% then I shouldn’t eat out at all so I just stay home,” notes another comment. “It gives me anxiety when they expect so much tip when service is bad.”

“It’s just become too expensive to eat out,” chimes in another. “With entrees and drinks plus tip; Two people can easily expect to spend $60-$70 easily.”

One study re-shared by Vox found that eating out was down by 5% in 2023. Similar to what Pat said, Vox reports that people tend to go out to eat at trendy spots that are viral online instead of the same place a few times a week. Additionally, the high price of food items driving restaurant prices up and people still not being back in the pre-pandemic flow of visiting restaurants are all things affecting the industry.

The Daily Dot has previously reported on a video Pat posted about the impact movements like “Dry January” also have on his bar businesses.

It seems that people’s relationship to eating out and their spending habits have changed. Hopefully, the “middle ground” restaurants, as Pat mentioned, can find a way to stay afloat during this transition time in American dining culture.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Pat for comment via TikTok.

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*First Published: Feb 1, 2024, 7:00 pm CST