Popular gimmick shows hungry queuing customers how long they have to wait Inside the Olympian City shopping mall in Kowloon, 50 people sit clutching tickets as they gaze transfixed at a flat-screen TV. Who is going to be first? But these are not punters watching the races. They are would-be diners at a restaurant that is hoping to make the traditional wait for a table a tiny bit more bearable. Queuing for a table is a much-loathed Hong Kong tradition, but at the Modern China Restaurant, managers have made the process more transparent by showing the floor plan via a screen to waiting customers. The display uses different colours to distinguish which diners are about to leave. 'If the customers are bored at least they can see the tables that have called for the bill,' owner Gary Kam Shing-kan says of the monitor. 'It's also to let them know we are being very fair.' The TV screens at Modern China, which opened last December, were introduced to help deal with queues of 50 or more people. Sometimes the wait can take hours, and not a day has gone by without a queue. The restaurant has 175 seats and tables are turned over six to seven times to accommodate about 1,200 people on a busy day. Still, most of the people who queue end up going elsewhere to eat because of the long wait. Special promotions ensured the popularity of the restaurant, which serves cuisine from Beijing, Sichuan and Shanghai. 'It has drawn a lot of people because this area has very few Shanghainese restaurants,' says a Mrs Luk, who has waited an hour for a Sunday brunch table. 'And the tea is good. So are the steamed pork buns.' Mr Kam is a first-time restaurateur. He had sold cashmere sweaters and pearls in five-star hotels for 20 years. With the large number of walk-in diners, Mr Kam only allows for reservations for tables before 12.15pm for lunch and 6.15pm for dinner. But to get a booking, diners must call two months in advance with present reservations already into November. Being a loyal customer, Mrs Luk has learned how to work the system. She and her husband no longer wait for tables. They have made reservations for a Sunday brunch table every week until the middle of next month.