How to Never Wait in Line for Brunch Again

According to statistics, I spend an average of 73 hours a year in traffic, 730 hours watching TV and 1,825 hours on my phone. Given this information, I don’t even want to know how many hours I’ve spent waiting in line for weekend brunch.

As a native New Yorker, born and raised, it’s bound to be an appalling number. I have memories from my childhood where I am standing in the too-small, uninsulated vestibule separating Three Guys diner from the chilly outdoors, my head barely high enough to peer through the pane of glass separating me from Belgian waffles and fake maple syrup, listening as my mom asked, “How long’s the wait for five people?”

“25 minutes.”

As a kid, a 25-minute weekend brunch wait sounded like an eternity. As a twenty-something adult woman who has now spent time living in the West Village and Nolita, a 25-minute weekend brunch wait sounds too good to be true.

Until recently, that is.

My revelation to the contrary occurred 100% by accident. I was meeting a friend at Jack’s Wife Freda for — you guessed it — weekend brunch. We agreed to meet at 12 p.m. We both coincidentally arrived early (13 minutes early, to be exact). At 11:47 a.m., we approached the establishment from opposite directions. We saw each other at the same time and laughed. What providence!

Like gladiators entering an arena, we faced the entry shoulder-to-shoulder, bracing ourselves for the presumably long wait ahead. I felt the beginnings of a stomach grumble and attempted to distract myself from impending hunger by thinking of various inedible things: cement, rusty shovels, etc.

It didn’t work. I smelled eggs.

We approached the hostess trepidatiously. “How long’s the wait for two?” I asked.

“Actually…” she said, glancing over her shoulder, “We can seat you right now.”

My friend made a noise that sounded like a cross between a giggle and a sexual experience. Meanwhile, I glanced around for traces of Ashton Kutcher.

But this wasn’t a prank. After we were seated and had a moment to collect ourselves, we began taking inventory of our surroundings. Our fellow diners were mostly tourists at first (a conclusion drawn based on the fact that many were carrying cameras, looking at paper maps and speaking languages other than English). They were just starting to wrap up their meals, pay their bills and vacate as we arrived. Then, starting around 11:57 a.m., groups of locals began to arrive — people who, just like my friend and I, agreed to meet at 12 p.m. for brunch. The restaurant was packed by 12:05 p.m., and there was a solid crowd gathering outside the door to wait for tables.

As we noshed leisurely on green shakshuka and toasted baguettes, an unprecedented brunch strategy began to crystallize. We called it: The 11:47 Theory.

The 11:47 Theory is based on the following suppositions:

+ Tourists who are visiting NYC but eat according to different a time zone will likely visit trendy eateries super early (pre-11 a.m.) or super late (post-2 p.m.).
+ Locals usually agree to meet for brunch on the hour or the half hour sometime between 12 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.
+ There is a magical, fleeting, whisper-thin sliver (no, I wouldn’t even call it a pocket) of time in which early bird tourists are trickling out and locals have yet to arrive.
+ That magical, fleeting, whisper-thin sliver of time is 11:47am.

If you think I’m kidding, I’m not. I’ve tested The 11:47 Theory no less than three times since discovering it, and my success rate is eerily immaculate. I was tempted to keep the theory a secret, but that felt wrong.

The gift of The 11:47 Theory isn’t mine to keep. It’s for everyone whose fingers have frozen while waiting to get into Dimes on a Sunday morning, for everyone who plunked down on the bench outside the West Village Westville for hours, for everyone who’s salivated over Instagram posts of the chocolate chip pancakes at Clinton Street Baking Co. while eating stale toast out of the fridge. It is, quite simply, for all of us.

See you on the inside.

Photo by Louisiana Gelpi; Creative Direction by Emily Zirimis.

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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