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Where skinny people sit in restaurants

Are there “fat tables” in restaurants? This is preliminary, but so far, our research suggests: maybe! We recently visited 27 restaurants across the country, and we measured and mapped out the layout of each one. We knew how far each table or booth was from the window and front door, whether it was in a secluded or well-traveled area, how light or dark it was, and how far it was from the kitchen, bar, restrooms, and TV sets. After we mapped it out and diners began arriving, we were able to track what they ordered and how it related to where they sat.

Some restaurants we visited for only one or two nights, but at one restaurant, we collected every receipt for every day for three straight months. At the end of three months, our Restaurant War Room back in Ithaca, New York, looked like a recycling center. It was full of huge bags stuffed with receipts that were wrinkled or wadded, smeared with steak sauce or wine stains, and autographed with things like “Thanks, Tiffany” and smiley faces. By analyzing these A-1-smeared artifacts, we are able to figure out whether somebody at Table 91 way in the back was more likely to order salad or less likely to order an extra drink than somebody at Table 7 — which is way up front, next to the door and bar.  

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