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hours of operation or arrive at 2 - woe is you

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If a restaurant is open from say 11:30 until 2:00 for lunch, should you not be able to be seated and served if you arrive before 2:00 (even if it's just before)?

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  1. I say no. Basically, I interpret it as they serve lunch until 2:00. If you arrive at five-till, they'd be *serving* you lunch well after 2:00. I'm not in the industry, and I'm sure others will chime in, but I probably wouldn't ask after 1:40, and then I'd ask if it's possible to get in and out quickly enough.

    1. If a place was open from 11:30 to 2pm and I arrived at 1:50am, in North America I would expect to be seated and served. In Europe I would expect to be turned away (and pleasantly surprised if I wasn't)

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      1. re: orangewasabi

        Yes - I've been grouchily received in Paris - seated as a restaurant was closing - but they became v. nice when we started ordering wine on the pricey side etc. If I arrive at a restaurant close to closing time, without a reservation, I expect either (a) to be seated or (b) to be told nicely that they are closing etc. and can't accomodate us. What I don't want is to be seated but then made to rush etc., without being told "you need to get your order in right away and we like to clear the dining room by x time."

      2. Unfortunately many operators are unclear.

        If they "seat" 11:30 to 2 then, yes, you should be served.
        If they "serve" 11:30 to 2 then expect to be there by 1:40

        I always go under the assumption that a restaurants listing hours are serving times not seating times.

        1. It varies from restaurant to restaurant and each restaurant is convinced that its way is correct so it's no good arguing. In some places, mostly high end, you can show up at 2 exactly and expect a reasonably leisurely (sometimes very leisurely) meal. In others, mostly low-end or "ethnic", they want you finished and walking toward the exit at 2. In short... always ask!

          This question has been on this board several times. Here's one thread:
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/323966

          1. At my dad's cafeteria we were open 11-2 and 5-7:30. We used to have a woman (in her eighties at that point, I think, ran the local movie theater and still dressed and acted like someone who knew and socialized with all the glamorous 1940s movie stars) who would park her car at the front door EVERY NIGHT and wait until 7:25 to come in. She seemed to be testing us, to make sure we weren't putting the food away before closing time. AND she took her time eating, had lots of coffee, needed lots of attention.