The owners of France's 60,000 bars, brasseries and cafes have said poor service is driving customers away, and have promised to do better.
Cafes need to get their act together, the industry says
"Customers are right to complain of a poor or non-existent welcome... and a lack of basic courtesy and reactivity," an industry spokesman said.
The number of cafes and customers has been dwindling as the number of complaints has been growing, he added.
Also, busy customers have less time and do not drink as much, observers say.
The number of French cafes has dropped from 150,000 to 60,000 in 15 years, said Andre Daguin, president of the French hotel and catering industry's main trade association, UMIH.
"Every year there are fewer people in the cafes and more and more complaints," he said.
"We have to take criticisms into consideration and react, otherwise the haemorrhage will continue."
After a particularly difficult summer, the industry has decided to work hard at attracting customers.
It will set up a new institute to tackle the problems and a charter of quality to improve service, comfort levels, products and hygiene.
The project will be presented to the tourism minister next month.