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Feb 8, 2011 09:13 AM

Arriving before a restaurant opens [split from Ontario]

(This post was split from the Ontario board at: -- The Chowhound Team)

Maybe I'm the only one that feels this way, but if you know that a resto doesn't open until 6 p.m., please don't show up until 6 p.m. Servers are polishing glasses, setting tables and putting the final touches on their set-up. Staff is likely having there staff meal and showing up early is more than a small item it really starts the night off on the wrong foot for everyone.

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  1. I have to agree - if you're early, it's nice if they let you in, but one shouldn't be miffed if they don't let you in. Hours are posted for a reason.

    I also have the opposite peeve - restaurants not open according to the hours posted.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jlunar

      A couple times we've arrived early at a place (coming from a long way away, unfamiliar area, etc.) and both times they've let us in, and had us wait in the lobby. I was perfectly fine with that. Just glad to be out of the cold! If it's only a couple minutes I do appreciate them not saying that we had to go back out and wait in the car.

      1. re: jlunar

        Reminds me of.....

        It's nice to be let in, but i would not expect it.....even in the rain. The restaurant has the right to set their policies and administer them as they see fit.

        1. re: jlunar

          >I also have the opposite peeve - restaurants not open according to the hours posted.

          100% THIS.

          I was recently very miffed at a restaurant which listed they were open all day, from 11am - 11pm. It was a VERY cold, VERY uncomfortable day and I was in a part of Philly without a lot of restaurant alternatives, but according to the on-line info this place would be able to seat us right away. We showed up at 4:45pm, door was locked, staff inside. No hours posted on the door. I called them and was told "Ooops, yeah, sorry I forgot to update the website, I keep meaning to do that. We open at 5pm." They saw us standing and shivering outside and would not let us inside until exactly 5pm.

          What really peeved me was, right inside and to the side of the main entry, this restaurant had a small waiting area far away from staff operations and the main room. Since their online information was inaccurate, I think it would have been nice if they'd offered to at least let us get warm and sit there until 5pm. If we'd been in another part of town with more walkable options, we wouldn't have even stayed to eat there to begin with.

        2. Do you mean actually try to enter?

          Sure. I just wait outside.

          But there have been various times where someone will see me outside, pop out and tell me to come in. They *choose* to do that, why is it my fault?

          1. Restaurants are in the "HOSPITALITY" business. That means being HOSPITABLE. It means welcoming potential diners with open doors and and a warm reception.
            I never fail to be amazed and appalled at the number of restaurants in Toronto that seem to be operated by Art School graduates who have such a high opinion of themselves that their customers are beneath contempt.
            For example, I will never ever eat at or recommend Sauvignon in the Beaches because I showed up 5 MINUTES before opening time and was told to buzz off. (The front door was open, the waiters were just standing around, but I was told "we don't open for another five minutes") If I owned that place I would train the staff to sit an early arrival at the bar and give her a drink and a menu. Build goodwill, not wrath!
            But no, not in Toronto. It's all about them.

            3 Replies
            1. re: KitchenVoodoo

              Ok, so they let you in when you're 5 mins early.
              What happens the next week hwne someone is 10 mins early?
              The week after that when someone is 20 mins early?
              The week after that when someone is an hour early?

              Where does one draw the line?

              Punctuality (in both directions) is a virtue. Personally I try to live by the mantra that if you're on time, you're late - but I just get used to waiting for the specified time as I don't expect others to do the same. OTOH, if they're 1 minute late, that *does* irk me.

              1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                You were told "we don't open for another five minutes", and you consider that being "told to buzz off" and being thought of as "beneath contempt", and it inspired "wrath" in you ?

                1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                  Where I live, it is against your insurance policy to serve a guest anything before the restaurant is open, or to have them in the building.

                2. I take issue with a restaurant accepting reservations for 6:00 pm but not being open 5-15 minutes before it; if people are expected to be there exactly at opening time, it would be reasonable to offer some accommodation for people arriving slightly before their reservation, as is necessary given uncertainties in travel time, and so on.

                  1. I have no problem with people arriving early as long as they understand that the waiting area is outside. Yes, it's hot and usually sunny, but if we're not ready to open, then we're not ready to open. You can start complaining about the heat after 11 a.m.