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Should GREAT service be expected 15 minutes before a restaurant closes?


Should GREAT service be expected 15 minutes before a restaurant closes?

  1. I'm sure many will disagree, but I think if a restaurant is open, it is open. If the sign says open until 10, I should be able to go in at 9:45 and get proper service. If the restaurant doesn't want people coming in that late they need to adjust their signs. One restaurant near me doesn't post closing time, but instead a "last seating" time, which I think is much nicer.

    That said, if I do go in near closing I won't linger - I eat and leave.

    14 Replies
    1. re: CanadaGirl

      Good point but I disagree. I would go in just for the drinks but I'm not ordering a steak or anything.

      1. re: cookedfood

        Why not? If a restaurant is open, they should be open. If they are closed, then that is fine too, but not if they list themselves as open, and seat patrons.

        Is there some sort of one hour grace period, when all restaurants are open, but not really, and I missed the memo?


        1. re: Bill Hunt

          So if a restaurant closes at 11, you feel no qualms about coming in at 10:50 for a sit-down meal? Really?

          My rule of thumb in a situation like this is "can I be done within about 10 minutes of their posted closing time?" If not, I won't go in. I'd feel like a jerk making the staff stay late on my account.

          1. re: LeoLioness

            I go by the exact same rule of thumb.

            1. re: LeoLioness

              +1. Even if I did I'd expect friendly, competent service, but not necessarily GREAT service. I don't think I ever expect great service, good wil do just fine.

              1. re: EWSflash

                I'm pretty much like you.....I'm just happy and grateful to be served....anytime during open hours......

                BTW. all these posters who expect GREAT service. Can you please explain to me what great service means to you?

                For me great service is ordering, or asking, for something and it arriving without delay

                I order a drink...it comes out to the table
                I order my meal....it comes out to the table.
                I ask for a fork...it comes to the table.

                You get the idea.

                What exactly is everyone expecting?

                1. re: fourunder

                  I usually tips 18-20% unless he is a bad server. but i never tips anyone under 15%. Unless he/she piss me off.

                  What is a bad server,
                  My water is almost empty and they wont come to fill it up,

                  Take forever for my check to come.

                  1. re: fourunder

                    > BTW. all these posters who expect GREAT service.
                    > Can you please explain to me what great service means to you?

                    This could be a whole topic by itself. Remember in the 90's when companies like IBM distinguished between mere customer satisfaction and "delighting" a customer?

                    I had that experience of being delighted recently. I told everyone I know, posted the story on my Yelp review, and even went back to test the individual to see if it was a one-off or if he was truly extraordinary (he is... he's some kind of service savant).

                    1. re: fourunder

                      Sounds good to me; or maybe I should say "great"

                    2. re: EWSflash

                      i may not sit down for a complete meal, but please don't start vacuuming or sweeping while i'm still at the table!

              2. re: CanadaGirl


                My feelings exactly. I do not recall any tenant that specifies that if a restaurant closes at 11:00PM,t hen no one can enter after 10:15PM. If they wish to close earlier, just do so. They set the hours, so stick with them.


                    1. re: huiray

                      So sorry. Spell Check did not flag that. Fortunately, you are around to do so.



                1. Yes. Same as 15 minutes after they open.

                  1. I agree with CanadaGirl, if a restaurant is open, it is OPEN! There is NO excuse for bad service. When I worked in the college food service, it was all you can eat buffet style. It totally (insert expletive here) me off when the salad bar worker would start closing out the salad bar 30 minutes BEFORE the end of service!! Unfortunately I was in no position to do anything about it, but I let my feelings on the subject be known.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: PotatoHouse

                      Remembering my college experiences as a waitress in a popular Italian restaurant I'd say you are right, of course. However, (big however) there are the inescapable practical realities. !) Everyone, despite their best intentions, is tired and 2) a lot of the best stuff is going to be gone. You'll have to deal with that. Bad service is never acceptable but expecting a primo experience -- if you're not in a top scale eatery -- is asking to be disappointed. Make your reservation well ahead at a reasonable time if you want the best odds on the best experience.

                      So, go at 15 minutes to closing time if that's what you need or want to do but do it with your eyes open and a sense of empathy for people who have been on their feet and in and out -- or in all night -- of a hot kitchen for 6 hours or more. They may *want* to give your their best but it's their end of the shift best and that's merely human limits.

                      OTOH, show some good humor and appreciation to someone who hasn't seen much of it that day and you could give them the second wind that means really personal service and a level of care in food prep that wasn't possible when they were doing half a dozen things at once.

                      1. re: rainey

                        As a teacher I'm on my feet all day long as well. So while I can absolutely sympathize, if my boss walked in on me 5 minutes before my last class ended and I was starting to "pack it in", I would get chewed out... and rightly so.

                        1. re: NicoleFriedman

                          Yep. Just as I get after students who start to pack up with 5 minutes to go. Class isn't over until it's over :)

                          1. re: CanadaGirl

                            The question for the teachers: Do you start something NEW 5 minutes before the end of class? If not, why not? Just curious.

                            1. re: bobbert

                              the only activity I'd start at that point is a "filler" -- something fun that still involves learning or using some skill from the day, that fills the extra few minutes at the end of class.

                              Something involved, like present continuous verb forms? No stinkin' way.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                So to translate into restaurant terms, would it be fair to say : maybe a slice of pie and a cup of coffee but no way a full course meal?

                                1. re: bobbert

                                  yep -- or a sandwich, or an order of fries...but not the whole thing.

                                  Whatever someone is still able to deal with after the rest of the class.

                              2. re: bobbert

                                I will definitely begin something new with 5 minutes left. A lot can get done in that time.

                              3. re: CanadaGirl

                                Does teacher need half hour to pack up after the student left?

                                1. re: Aznmask

                                  nope - the teacher needs to clear out in 5 minutes or less, because the next teacher is coming in the door any second now.

                        2. If a restaurant is open and is taking food orders, the service should be the same no matter what time it is.

                          I specify that they must still be taking food orders as I worked at a pub that was open until quite late but last food orders had to be taken before 9pm.

                          1. Of course. However, I'd also expect to hear some extra clatter and chatter from the crew turning things down (in a light manner).

                            1. Nope. Much as it would be nice to say yes, the reality is that the kitchen and FOH staff have been on their feet for a full shift, and they're ready to go home. It doesn't make them lazy or incompetent, it makes them human beings.

                              (I personally wouldn't walk in 15 minutes before close and order anything but a sandwich or something, only because stuff has now been sitting there since they started prep for the dinner service several hours ago, and it's going to be pretty tired by that point)

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: sunshine842

                                Hm-m, I am a commercial photographer. Some days are longer, than others. If I accept an assignment, I do that assignment.

                                Should we say that if a restaurant closes at 11:00PM, then they are actually closed at 10:00PM, as some people might be tired?

                                Sorry, but I do not buy into this way of thinking. If the management wants to close at 10:00PM,fine - just say so, because the staff is tired.

                                Let's take another service area, as an example. At the hospital, say you come in at 10:45PM, but the staff has been there since 3:00PM. Should one just sit in the parking lot, until the new staff has come on, and oriented to the patients? After all, that 3 - 11 staff is tired, and nearing the end of their shift.

                                What about checking into a hotel late in the evening. Should one not expect a tired reservationist to check them in?


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  Not the same thing -- that new shift will come into the hospital and take over when the prior shift leaves.

                                  The reservation desk only has to turn off the computer (if they even do that) and lock the door.

                                  When you have to clean and store all the stuff that goes on in a restaurant, it shifts everything -- as has been discussed in great detail downthread.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    Actually, at a hospital, the new shift comes in BEFORE the old shift leaves. There's a good half-hour overlap, at the very least, where the arriving staff is oriented by the departing.

                                    1. re: EWSflash

                                      I know...just that at some point the people finishing up their shift leave...hopefully you've seen the new shift come in for a low-down of your condition...but I was simplifying (overly so, it would seem)

                                  2. re: Bill Hunt

                                    "At the hospital, say you come in at 10:45PM, but the staff has been there since 3:00PM. Should one just sit in the parking lot, until the new staff has come on, and oriented to the patients?"

                                    Recent studies suggest that yes, you should. Shift turnover is a killer. Literally.

                                2. I wouldn't go to a sit-down restaurant for a meal 15 minutes before closing...

                                  1. I don't know. I'd never eat anywhere 15 minutes before they close.

                                    1. How do you define "great"? To me, service only qualifies as "great" if it exceeds expectations. So, if I am running in late and the restaurant is about to close, but they clearly go out of their way to make me feel welcomed, not rushed, and serve me good food then perhaps what would be "good" at another time of day I might consider "great" at that moment, for my expectations are admittedly lower. For example, I might expect the menu to be slightly limited or specials unavailable. I might expect them to be cleaning and setting up other tables for the next days service. I might expect that I won't get offered refills on my coffee. Those types of things would be irritating and lower my opinion of a restaurant at 7 p.m. but depending on circumstances may be perfectly acceptable at 10.

                                      However, I agree with Canada Girl that a "last seating" time is generally much more accurate than a "closing" time. Unfortunately, most casual places don't distinguish between the 2. A lot of places around here replace the regular menu with a "late night" or "bar" menu after a certain time.

                                      1. simply - i expect the same service i'd get any other time they seat me

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: thew

                                          "Any other time they seat me" is the gem nugget in your sentence, thew. IF a high-end restaurant consented to seat us (and I can't imagine under what end-of-the-world, apocalypse-been-scientifically-proved-to-be-tomorrow circumstances under which that would occur,) I'd expect the same dance I'd expect for the first seating. But cannot for the life of me think of a place that would do this.

                                        2. Unless one has an out-of-control sense of entitlement, no.

                                          17 Replies
                                          1. re: beevod

                                            I'm entitled to what I'm paying for, aren't I? If they charge me the same price and expect the same tip, then I should get the same food and service.

                                            I assume that if a restaurant seats me then I should get the same experience as everyone else. If they can't provide the full service, then they should say so upfront: "I'm sorry, we can't seat you, we're closing in a few minutes" or "I'm sorry, we're closing in a few minutes so we can't provide full service, but if you'd like to order from a limited menu..." etc.

                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                              In cases like this it is worth the extra effort to evaluate just what you are expecting the other person,(in this case restaurant) to do. I guess some would feel they are entitled to "push the edges of the envelope" . I for one would not expect a dinner house to jump to a customer who wants to be seated for a dinner within a few minutes of closing. Common sense goes a long way.

                                              1. re: ospreycove

                                                That may be true, but I have been in both situations. I have gone into a restaurant with the glowing "Open" sign on and the posted hours showing they closed in an hour only to be told that the kitchen is closed and they aren't taking any more orders. (Silly me for thinking that open sign glowing in the night an hour before the posted closing sign wasn't a tip off that the kitchen was closed.)

                                                On the other hand, I popped into a family-run Italian restaurant about a year ago about 30 minutes before closing and asked if I could be seated for dinner or if I should come back another time. The owner graciously escorted me to my table and told me that they seat people until they lock the doors at closing time. "We are open until the closing time posted on the door."

                                                Guess which one has seen my repeat business.

                                                1. re: Seth Chadwick

                                                  Isn't having the kitchen and the bar close at different times fairly common, though? I can't imagine being offended by that.

                                                2. re: ospreycove

                                                  I think the problem is that "closing" in an unclear term when it comes to restaurants. Just how far before closing can you expect to get full service? If an average "nice" dinner takes between an hour and an hour and a half, that would imply that they shouldn't seat anyone after 9 p.m. if they want to kick the customers out and lock the door at 10. To me, if it says it's "open" that means it's open to customers walking in the door. If it's not, they should tell you so up front, and not seat you and then charge you full price for crappy food and/or service because they're tired and it's the end of their shift. On my job I don't get a pass for doing a lousy job because it's the end of the day, why should restaurant workers? If you bought a car that was a lemon because it was assembled at the end of the shift, are you "entitled" for complaining about it?

                                                  When I worked in a store, if you walked in the door one minute before closing you got the same service, even though I'd been on my feet all day and still had to close out the register, restock the shelves, make the bank deposit, etc. When I worked taking phone orders if you called one minute before my shift ended you still got the same service, even it if it took 45 minutes to get your complicated order straight (as it did one night). I don't understand why a restaurant should be any different. And it makes me really sad to see all the replies from people in the restaurant industry who think that customers are acting "entitled" because they want the food and service they've been promised and that they're paying for. If you don't want to serve people, then tell them so and let them go somewhere else.

                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                    Perfectly put. Couldn't say it better myself! In my profession I see clients in the last hour of my scheduled day. Do they justly expect the same courtesy, attention, and professionalism as my earlier clients that day? Of course they do. And they get it.

                                                    1. re: Leonardo

                                                      but if they are late and you need to leave the office/shop do you give them less time for the same money assuming you don't bill by the hour?

                                                      1. re: smartie

                                                        How are they "late" if you're open? If you're not really open,, or you can't perform the service, you tell them upfront, you don't take their money and give them lousy service.

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          if office hours are 9-5 and their appointment is 4.30 and they get there at 4.50 now what?

                                                          1. re: smartie

                                                            That's not the same thing -- they were given a specific time to be there, and "time" is what is being sold -- you waste that time, that's your problem. And anyway, no one anywhere on this thread has said that a restaurant is required to serve someone who shows up 15 minutes before a posting closing time, only that the restaurant should make it clear to the customer that there might be limitations and what the limitations are; that is clarify whether the closing time means "no more seating" or "no more food/service."

                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                              Im assuming most of you have never worked in a kitchen...

                                                              1. re: dailybread8383

                                                                I don't know what working in the kitchen has to do with being straightforward with you customers about what kind of food and service you can offer them 15 minutes before closing. If you seat the customer, then serve him. If you can't serve him, don't seat him. Simple.

                                                                1. re: dailybread8383

                                                                  If it's that difficult to serve a customer that close to closing time, then a restaurant shouldn't seat the customer. I think it's being passive aggressive to seat a customer and then treat them rudely for asking.

                                                              2. re: smartie

                                                                If the person has an appointment at 4:30 and it runs over 5:00, then I'd keep working with him/her. I've had hairdressers do that when it takes longer than expected. And, I wasn't treated rudely. She was probably exhausted after a long day. But, because she was pleasant, I gave her an extra large tip. Had she been rude, she would have not only lost the big tip but lost a customer.

                                                    1. re: beevod

                                                      Then, what is the unpublished point, at which one should really consider the closing time, if not the published closing time? Is there some secret allowance there?

                                                      If they really want to close an hour earlier, then they should do so, and be done with it - change the sign, change the Web site, but close.


                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        I've skimmed over the posts and a recurring motif is whether "closing" means "last seating", or "kitchen closing/last kitchen order", or the restaurant literally both closing the doors and throwing people out (sort of). IMO it depends on the restaurant, no place is the same, with high-end places tending to be more along the lines of either "last seating" or "last order".

                                                        I very recently had a meal at Everest in Chicago, for example, where they post their hours of operation as till 9.30 pm on the day I was there. I was seated at 7.30 pm but left after 10.30 pm, closer to 11 pm, with food and service being furnished with suitable service up to the last, and there were still other diners there when I left.

                                                        In essence, then, **unless the restaurant clearly states that it will turn out the lights at such-and-such an hour** (ask them!) then I would agree that if I walk in while they are still officially open then I expect to receive suitable but decent service - whether that is GOOD service or not is another debatable point. I would not, however, linger or attempt to camp out at the table.

                                                      1. re: rockandroller1

                                                        This^ Usually would expect to be told very politely that the kitchen doesn't have time to make me anything. No hard feelings.

                                                        Though, honestly it makes more sense for most restaurants to post last seating times rather than closing times. It simplifies things - if you're in time for the last seating, you can expect good service and food. If you're late for the last seating, you can try again tomorrow.

                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                          +1. Why don't restaurants make a non-issue of the whole thing by saying "Last seating at 9:00" ? Then the wording is clear as a bell and there's no more endless guessing as to what "closed" means.

                                                        2. re: rockandroller1

                                                          Why? If the restaurant is open, why not the kitchen?


                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                            There are various places I've been to which stay "open" even though the kitchen is officially closed. Perhaps some snacks may be available but no full dinners anymore. Typically these are places which have a sizable alcohol/bar operation as well as formal restaurant food. So you sit and have drinks, maybe munchies or whatnot, until they really turn off the lights and throw you out.

                                                        3. cookedfood: in a word, NO. The reason for my answer is multi-layered and not intended to foment controversy, if there is any, on this thread, 'since in all honesty I only read the first answering post before I had to respond.

                                                          All levels of dining do not bring with them the same expectation of service. When I go to Denny's I expect the service to be pleasant and fast. When I go to Lyon's or Applebee's pretty much the same, except they've "kicked it up a notch - actually a half-notch - " (my first and only public, spoken or written use of that phrase, since I'm SO over it) by employing "food runners," who bring your food so it stays hot . Phase up, yet again: the small, yet casual sit-down restaurants we frequently go to where I expect: pleasant, friendly and watchful service, no matter what time we get there. I'd expect my server to be well-versed in the menu, and to be able to offer suggestions. More than one part of the FOH might be expected to be part of the service there. (I would try to avoid doing this to their fine staffs, though: I'd try like hell. It would be a last resort.) BUT. If you're talking about well-choreographed, topflight formal Fine Dining? There are a few problems w/ the question you posed. 1. IMO you can't reasonably expect any staff to be up to perfect par when they've been running their asses off all night, no matter how well they conceal the physicality and brain-draining power of their job, no matter how easy it looks to you. Though they may try their best (and kudos to those who do; they are the stars of the show) they'll be tired at very least, and wanting like hell to get home at worst, and 2. Most Fine-dining restaurants wouldn't accept a walk-in since they work on the "seatings" concept anyway. No way you'd get into the door while the rest of the patrons are enjoying their final sips of gently-warmed Brandy.

                                                          I guess my point is, everyone burns out at the end of the day. With restaurant folks, be they front or back of house, even more so. The kitchen has been there for a minimum of ten hours; the front maybe not as many hours, but doing a very physical job. It doesn't bode well for you to go ANYWHERE fifteen minutes before it closes. Sorry, but it's the truth as I know it.

                                                          8 Replies
                                                          1. re: mamachef

                                                            As an owner...we go to great lengths to ensure everyone has the same great experience ...fvrom start to finish. In almost every case that happens.

                                                            It depends on ther restaurant...there are late plkaces and early places...learn what your place is.

                                                            Now that I have said that....here are the situations that make it hard to ensure it always happens...

                                                            1. The campers who hold a table while other wait...and believe me..the cooks and servers know when this happens...then the ones who finish the meal and wait for an hour to order dessert.

                                                            2. The customners who relish eating late...make a big deal out of telling the staff they always wait till the last minute to come in... so they are not rushed...smile pleasantly and expect someone to be fresh and chipper after a six hour Friday night...and then want top of the line service...get real...

                                                            3. The menu changers...why do the ones who come in late always have to put the servers and kitchen staff through the wringer on subs and changes...and "I'm allergic to this"...and there is always the guy who orders a twenty three dollar bottle of Hob Nob and says..."I don;t know... it isn;t quite right...maybe the cellar is a bit warm?...No?" It;s a generic blend from about two thousand vineyards all over France you dickhead...my cellar is a cardboard box under the stairs in the basement.

                                                            4. The late orders for take out..better than sitting in...but delivery drivers hate them and almost always cash out the days reciepts...while the delivery sits and dries out on top of the oven...then the driver pays for the order and does not have to come back to the shop...when I see it I get mad...but I am sympathetic...and whoa to the customner that I hear does not tip out generously...in any case

                                                            So...alot depends on the style of restaurant.,..we are a small local bar serving excellent scratch pub style food and pizza...our prices reflect our food and service...If a three star place is going to stay open and the bill is significant with a tip being in the same category...yeas...I would expect them to ensure the service is top notch.

                                                            I worked for many years at a restaurant that had three stars from the NYT...andf we prided ourselves on food and service...no rush etc.

                                                            There was one guy who came in every Sat night at 10PM ...sometimes an hour after the last custioner was served...always with another woman...he was arrogant, never sent us a beer, never achnowledged the late stay... and we did all we could...but he didnt have any friends in our shop...the "friends" used to get a big double tablespoon of beluga caviar rolled in our house smioked salmon as a canape (the owner didn't know)...and a glass of Nickel and Nickel always seemed to find it's way back to the kichen...with beer for the dishwashers...

                                                            Our guy used to get a couple of "Tomato Bruscetta"...

                                                            Restaurant people are humans ...treat hem nice and the once time you need to come in late...they will take care of you.

                                                            1. re: jms123

                                                              I have to assume from your answer that you run one of the mid-range/lower-high end houses, and what you describe describes the level of service I'd expect, if, as I said I was allowed to sit at all. Sounds like you run a very nice place. (Post-edit:) I have to hope that didn't come off as condescending. I've enjoyed some of my favorite meals at the type of place you describe. They are generally chef owned/operated - and certainly, I can't expect the "operated" part to be true of very high-end places we've been lucky and flush enough at the time to frequent. So. :)

                                                              1. re: jms123

                                                                LOL LOL LOL at your #3. My celler is a cardboard box. Love it.

                                                              2. re: mamachef

                                                                I am very sorry, but disagree with you.

                                                                If a restaurant is open, and patrons are seated in the open restaurant, then why should they not expect food and service?

                                                                If the restaurant wishes to really close earlier, they are within their rights to do so, and should. If they are open, then they should be open.

                                                                Many restaurants schedule the evening by seatings, and though there might be diners in the restaurant, if one is X minutes past the last seating, they are effectively closed, and any patrons entering should be so informed. Otherwise, if they are open, then they are open. I cannot understand what the problem is here.


                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                  Bill can we agree that in the majority of circumstances, it is not up to the waitstaff/cooks to make the decision on what time to close? Management/owners make that decision and the staff are the ones that have to do all the work. You cannot understand what the problem is because you cannot see the human side of the equation. The business side says stay open until scheduled time, regardless of how mentally and physically exhausted the staff is. You cannot draw comparisons to an office job, or kinkos, or most any other job because the challenges just arent the same. A 10-14 hours shift in a hot kitchen, running around on concrete/tile floors, dealing with rude/arrogant/ignorant people takes a toll on you that cannot be conveyed to people who have not worked in the business.

                                                                  Sorry, but expecting someone to be at the top of their game after a long day just isnt fair or reasonable IMO. will you get service? yes - begrudgedly. will it be great? probably not

                                                                  1. re: joe777cool

                                                                    Yes indeed.
                                                                    ...and if I did walk in shortly before "closing" and was extended smiles and courteous service to the end of my meal I would make sure to tip well. (I would also try not to linger)

                                                                    1. re: joe777cool

                                                                      If I am missing the "human side of things," then is it not the management, who is missing that same thing?

                                                                      I go by what management posts, and seldom will query the waitstaff on what they translate the "closing time" to be. Just not something that I normally do.


                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                        Is that a rhetorical question? Of course (upper) management doesnt care. When have they ever cared? The bottome line is the bottom line.

                                                                2. It is not a good idea to expect "GREAT" service at a table cloth place or even a good cauual restaurant; maybe the hot dog vendor gives the same service until he/she folds up the umbrella and dumps out the dirty hot dog water. In reality as one sits in their stuffy little work cubicle and the clock approaches quitting time do you expect your supervisor to dump a load of work on your little desk for you to complete before you leave??....... If you have ever seen the cooking line in any restaurant. as closing time nears, you see the line cooks breaking down their stations, returning ingredients to the cooler, tossing out others not to be kept, etc. So they can turn off the grills, salamanders deep fryers etc. and start the heavy clean up as soon as the "kitchen is closed" signal comes from the Chef or the owner/ manager on duty. As others have said the Front of the house staff as well as those standing in front of a blazing char-grill, or saute station for at least a full shift are....Damn tired!!! To recap in no way would I expect "GREAT service 15 minutes before closing.'

                                                                  20 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ospreycove

                                                                    Osprey said just what I was trying to formulate in my head. No one wants to have a fresh pile of tasks at the end of the day. We all have our work-end routine, tying up loose ends and prepping for the next day, whether working in an office, hospital, restaurant, factory.

                                                                    1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                      if they seat people until 11, then starting to clean up at 10:45 is premature.

                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                        Never worked in a restaurant huh?

                                                                        Restaurants start the cleanup/close down process the minute the rush is over. Sections are closed down and staff is sent home. If a restaurant waited until 15 minutes before close to start cleanup, well the prices would be ALOT higher on the menu due to all the added labor.

                                                                        You also have to remember that closing a restaurant is a bit more complex than turning off a computer at 5:01 and walking out the door. You have 30 minutes to 2 hours of work to do after closing.....having to cook/wait on someone who walks in 15 minutes before close not only delays that work but in many cases can undo cleaning that has already been done.

                                                                        I am a restaurant manager, and part of my job is making sure that the staff does their job right up until close. When we get a delivery at 1 minute til close am I pissed? Yeah of course - now I have to work an extra 30-45 minutes (unpaid btw, salary manager) instead of going home to spend time with my family.

                                                                        So to answer the question I would not expect good service - or food for that matter, but its a moot point because I would never, ever, do that to another food service professional.

                                                                    2. re: ospreycove

                                                                      Perfectly said. I may work until 5pm, but a pile of work dumped on me at 4:45 gets the stink-eye from me and I rush through it without as much attention to detail as I might have given in earlier in the day.

                                                                      1. re: irishnyc

                                                                        But you get paid the same for the last 15 minutes as you did for the first 15 minutes, right?

                                                                        I agree everyone is human, and no one behaves perfectly all the time. But doing your job badly should be the exception to the rule, and not expected, excused behavior.

                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                          just like showing up at a restaurant 15 minutes before close should be the exception to the rule.

                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                            The restaurant has the option to tell the customer the kitchen is closed. The question remains, does the closing time mean the time after which no one will be seated, or the time the kitchen closes? As I pointed out elsewhere, if the restaurant actually closes at 10, then they should close the door and stop seating people at 9 so that everyone can enjoy the meal and have the experience they paid for.

                                                                            I'm still amazed at how many people think it's perfectly acceptable to do a crappy job just because their shift is near the end. Do the job you're getting paid for!

                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                              After reading all the posts I think I can sum things up. Should you GET excellent service when you show up 15 minutes before closing? Absolutely. Should you EXPECT excellent service when you show up 15 minutes before closing? Nope. Expectations and what you end up with are often two very different things and as you have more experiences, your expectations usually adjust to meet the realities. For those who EXPECT great service 15 minutes before closing, I say go out and hit up a half dozen restaurants in the next month at that time and I can assure you, your expectations will change. Hey, I believe that with their payroll, the Mets should win the world series but I don't expect it.

                                                                              1. re: bobbert

                                                                                Since virtually everyone has a cell phone, I would say it is best to call a place if you're coming in late and ask them if they can accommodate you--then there is no guessing or surprise on either side.

                                                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                                                  That doesn't always work. We noticed a restaurant was closing in 30 minutes - 30! and asked if we should return another time. The manager insisted we sit and enjoy dinner, "it was no problem." In hindsight, we should have trusted our instincts and left. Our waiter hustled us through dinner and it wasn't enjoyable. I don't like being the last one in a restaurant either.

                                                                                  Another time, while on vacation in Bermuda, we went to our fave low key Italian place and realized they were very close to closing and there were only 2 tables wrapping up dinner. The manager was ready to seat us, but we refused & ordered takeout on the spot. He treated us to a shot of limoncello & had our order ready super quick. Everyone was pleased, one quick final sale for them, and a tasty dinner for us on our balcony.

                                                                                  To answer the question, NO, I do not expect great service 15 minutes before closing.

                                                                            2. re: sunshine842

                                                                              It's like having sex in a burning building. Tick. Tick. Tick.

                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                with the firefighters standing there looking at their watches....

                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                  Better that than they stand watching at their lookers. I prefer a modicum of privacy...

                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                    Heee!! I doubt they would be too entertained by watching what you were doing.

                                                                        2. re: ospreycove

                                                                          "In reality as one sits in their stuffy little work cubicle and the clock approaches quitting time do you expect your supervisor to dump a load of work on your little desk for you to complete before you leave??"

                                                                          Not sure what world you live in, but if one's stated hours are 9:00AM to 5:00PM. then that does not mean 9:45AM to 4:15PM, with time to ramp up, and ramp down. Work comes, when work comes.

                                                                          When I go to the Kinko's/Fed-X when they open, or before they close, I do not expect to be told, "hey, we're not ready yet, come back in an hour," or "look, it's nearly quitting time. Come back tomorrow, about 2 hours before we close." If the sign says 5:00PM, until 11:00PM, that is what I expect, and not some abbreviation of those hours. If they really mean 6:00PM, until 10:00PM, then they need to say so.


                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                            And when you show up at Kinko's 15 minutes before they close with 30 minutes worth of work, you will probably get service but should you expect GREAT service? My point above was that, yes, you SHOULD get the same service anytime that a restaurant seats you BUT the reality is that you probably should EXPECT a bit less than the great service you might have gotten 2 hours earlier. That's not what should happen but the reality is you're probably going to be dealing with all the things people mentioned above and at some level, service may suffer. Hey, I should expect the Ford I purchase that was built on a Friday to be as good as the one that was built on a Wednesday but the reality is that may not happen (I think I got the good and bad car building days right). I've had very good service late and very bad service late. I'm quite sure the percentage of bad increases as I get within 30 minutes of closing. Not how it should be but it is how it is.

                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                              "If the sign says 5:00PM, until 11:00PM, that is what I expect, and not some abbreviation of those hours."

                                                                              The point is that a restaurant is expected to stay open PAST those hours, if a customer comes in right before they lock the doors.

                                                                              When you go to Kinko's 15 minutes before the doors close with a one hour print job, they will probably tell you it will be ready tomorrow. Most every retail store will make an announcement a few minutes before closing time. Then they will turn off a few lights and start vacuuming and lock the front door. Exiting customers will have to be let out by an employee, and anyone lingering will be asked intently if they need further assistance. Then they will be told they need to checkout.

                                                                              1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                                                                                heck, even the garden centers and the automotive centers at Walmart close up -- if you pull in for new brakes 15 minutes before closing, you BET they're going to tell you to come back tomorrow...and I'm guessing the Mercedes dealership would tell you the same thing.

                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                  The Mercedes dealer lends you a courtesy car...:)

                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                    but they're not going to open the hood yet tonight.

                                                                          2. Only if a GREAT tip is expected.

                                                                            Seriously, I would only walk into a restaurant that late in some sort of late night dining emergency, but I do think that if they agree to seat you so late, you should get good service.

                                                                            1. I've had to do this on occasion -- I used to have a sales territory, and sometimes life just sucks. Meetings, delayed flights, bad traffic, shitty weather...business travel is usually NOT the glamorous expense-account life it's regularly believed to be.

                                                                              If I walked in as they were breaking down, I'd apologize profusely and ask what they could throw together for me to take back to my hotel -- then I'd smile, thank them from the bottom of my starving little heart, and tip them as best I could (my expense account was always pretty tightly reined...as are most in this day and age)

                                                                              And I usually got something at least mostly decent to eat, because I was willing to meet them halfway, and they knew I wanted to get to my hotel just as badly as they wanted to go home.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                proper as hell, and a very nice way to handle that scenario.

                                                                              2. For 15 minutes only....

                                                                                Expectations are pre-meditated resentments.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. The restaurant closes in 15 minutes, so it has the option to give you great service for exactly 15 minutes and close.....or take your order and stay open to serve you past the posted closing time.

                                                                                  As a customer, you have the choice of staying or leaving based on those parameters. Your expectations can either be reasonable or unreasonable.....reasonable by you......unreasonable by the house....or vice versa.

                                                                                  Personally, I would not expect anything 15 minutes before closing time......other than disappointment.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                                                    heehee -- visions of being seated, given menus, drink orders taken, drinks delivered.

                                                                                    Oh, sorry, it's closing time, you'll have to go -- your bill is $23.25 for the drinks, cash only, because the credit-card terminal is turned off at closing time.

                                                                                    *pushes customer out door*

                                                                                    1. re: fourunder

                                                                                      Should this not be negotiated before seating, or is there some secret code involved?


                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                        Knowing, or realizing, the restaurant is 15 minutes from posted closing time.......Most reasonable people would ask the simple question...

                                                                                        *Is it too late to be served?*

                                                                                        Can you remember the secret code?

                                                                                    2. Put me in the camp of there should be a last seating time posted along with or in place of the hours.

                                                                                      I'd be curious to hear from employees of mid end places as to what is the expected time to allot to a party being seated in the last hour of opening? Does someone coming in at 20-30 minutes before closing still get good service because you're expecting them to be there an hour and normally a half hour after close is when you'd expect to have everyone out of there?

                                                                                      Or is it anyone showing up in the last hour going to be experiencing less than stellar service because once the place is closed, you expect everyone gone so you can start the front of house cleanup? What's the rule of thumb here? Always outliers of course, but what's the general idea?

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Jase


                                                                                        At all fine-dining establishments, that I can recall, there are two times for the end of service: the time that the kitchen closes, and the time that the restaurant closes.


                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                          Hence my question about mid end places. High end fine dining, I expect great service, low end, I expect bad service. But mid end I think is where you run into the grey areas. If they close at 11, what's the expectation level?

                                                                                      2. In theory, yes. In practice, no. In short, I do NOT expect good service before a restaurant closes. I do not expect to have horrible service, but certaily I do not expect the service to be great.

                                                                                        1. When we had our family restaurant, we normally allowed only takeout orders for someone coming in that late. So yes, they would have great service for takeout.

                                                                                          1. One of the major problems that restaurants universally seem to have is communication issues with their customers. This topic is a prime example of that problem.

                                                                                            This topic has come up before and I will offer the same suggestion I have offered before. It is simple. It is cheap. It is easy. It is clear. It sets expectations on both sides and is crystal clear.

                                                                                            On an 8.5 x 11 sheet of white paper, a restaurant owner or manager should write in 48 pt. "Kitchen closes at 9:30 PM. Restaurant closes at 11:00 PM." (Or whatever time frame works for the restaurant.)

                                                                                            Sadly, restaurants, for whatever reason, would rather create bad customer will instead of posting a $0.50 sign in the window to communicate with the customers.

                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Seth Chadwick

                                                                                              sounds great, if you're eating at a military mess hall . . . real restaurateurs however, run hospitality establishments. the definition of hospitality includes the ***relationship*** between guest and host. someone who does not understand this relationship would post such a sign, and likely have a number of other horrible little in-your-face rules to ruin a diner's evening.

                                                                                              restaurateurs who truly understand hospitality will value their guests and will treat them like guests, will roll with individual situations as makes sense at the time, and when faced with folks who treat the relationship between patron and house abusively and with disrespect. . . will reserve the right to refuse service. a good host will finesse an interaction with a guest, not shove an ugly sign at them like the blunt weapon & barrier to interaction/relationship that it is.

                                                                                              relationship. if you walk into a restaurant at ten minutes to close and act like an entitled a-hole, wow big surprise, the kitchen closed ten minutes ago :) and the crew from the restaurant next door who come in an hour after you. . . the cook who is off the clock may just go back into the kitchen and whip them up something, off-menu. on a slow night the chef may tell the pregnant line cook to go on home early, and some menu items may get 86ed as a result. folks who feel entitled to everything a restaurant could ever offer at all times may get their panties in a bundle "on principle"-- but the truth is, that over time, good labor management can save a restaurant that would otherwise close and have all the employees lose their livelihood. and it's humane for a restaurateur or chef to have the well-being of her/his staff as a prerogative. keeping a broiler station open for an extra hour during a regional heat wave is a good way to see half your kitchen staff wind up hospitalized.

                                                                                              it is sad that people think that restaurants should run like a factory floor. kind of absurd, too-- since factories could never produce what restaurants do. there is a vast, widening gulf between the corporate mindset and the hospitality/humanitarian philosophy. unfortunately, this sad, offensive entitlement on the part of consumers, and the unwillingness to have an unscripted relationship/experience at a restaurant, is driving some of the most generous and truly hospitable people out of the restaurant business, permanently. it should scare more people, but otoh i don't think most people bother to think about it.

                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                I don't see that it's any different from going to a store right before closing. Would you expect the clerk in CVS to want to help you make a photograph album a few minutes before their closing time? Are shoppers going to try on 5 gowns at 5.59pm when the store closes at 6? Patients who show up 5 minutes before we close because they ran late or, worse still, think they can just walk in to see the doctor or change a prescription when we are ready to lock up are not entitled to a half hour consultation and should expect us to possibly be irritable and short with them.

                                                                                                We are humans, we have homes to go to, we have mentally readied ourselves for the end of our shift. There is nothing wrong in calling ahead and asking if we can help but people should also be humble enough to accept the answer could be no.

                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                  What?!? I actually think Seth's solution is more of a hospitality mindset and recognizes people. It acknowledges the realities of people's lives and trying to ensure good service. If I see the kitchen is closed at 9:30 but place at 11, I know it would be okay to linger with drinks until 11 and won't pester the kitchen. But if I slide in at 9:20, then I would feel I could order a meal and know that I'm still within the normal schedule for the kitchen and they can do a good job providing hospitality.

                                                                                                  I think having a one set time of just saying the place is closed at 11 makes it tougher for the kitchen. Slide in at 10:50, people don't care if they're human or not, treat them like they're robots and expect good service regardless of how it fits into their service. Time said 11, so it must be good.

                                                                                                  1. re: Jase

                                                                                                    The problem is that solution doesn't fit the reality, where at that hour many people are just coming in for a drink or coffee and a bit to eat with it (app or dessert), which can be accommodated easily in a short seating, and the restaurant doesn't want to discourage that.

                                                                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                      My sign was an example, not a universal mandate. You can structure it any way you wish. Kitchen closes at 9:30. Dessert, coffee and drinks served until 10:15. Restaurant closes at 11 PM. Or whatever works best for the situation.

                                                                                                      But to simply say "Restaurant closes at 11 PM" could mean anything from "We will seat you at 10:59 PM" to "We don't serve food an hour before closing."

                                                                                              2. JMS123 referenced the concept of "friends of the house" and I often tend to visit my favorite restaurants late in their service. The servers tend to be more relaxed, have time to chat. The owner comes by and sits with me for a minute, invites me to a party at her house that weekend, etc. I'm not demanding, don't expect spry service, and expect that many of the specials are already 86'd.

                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                                                                  I think the variety of answers all reflect the fact that there are few if any black and white situations.

                                                                                                  dining/drinking/visiting with us is a community and family experience...and is unique to single location places...we DO have the luxury of being a little bold when someone comes in and dismisses the balance between the proprietor and trhe customer...

                                                                                                  I always want to make the experience as outstanding as we can...and yes we are chef and owner operated...one location...I really donlt like to call any chain a restuarant...they are food factories run by robotic clones who do the best they can to annoy the fewest poossible people...but make no mistake...anyone wqith more than one location has an acceptable perecentage of customers they expect to be unhappy...and they live with it.

                                                                                                  As a small place...we donlt have that priveledge... so the magnifying glass is on the folks who see things objectively and give us some consideration ...and we return the same way.

                                                                                                  Breaking down at 9:45 for a 10 oclock close is not too early...I want the labor under control...and frankly the place should be in a constant state opf consolidation and closing/opening...but I do draw the line with front of the house folkls...no brooms, vacums, heavy cleaning till the last customer leaves...but we will bedn the rulkes if we have campers...and they usually are fine with that...no one has to really leave till the bar closes...

                                                                                                  Last week...during the hurricane...on Sunday night...at 9:01...my wife looked at a couple who had been standing outside smiking for a half hour...they came in and ask to be seated...she said...I am sorry ...we are closed...they got mad.

                                                                                                  We talked about it...the day was crazy...we were actually running out of food...it had started early and it as punushing (oh yea...I pulled muscle out in my back on Monday morning pulling tje wagon of cash to the bank...then the local NBC folksd showed up to talk to us...

                                                                                                  But we looked at each other and said...the cooks are beat...no one was going home to any electicity ..so we just said...sorry...our perogative...next time come in on time.

                                                                                                  I know it was not the perfect asnswer but for the other 300 covers...it was a great night...

                                                                                                  Forty years for me...thirty five for my wife...our entire adult life has been in this business...you will not find nicer people or a better local restaurant...so to thoise of you who weant to push the envelope on being resonable...it workls both ways...which is fine with me...

                                                                                                  1. re: jms123

                                                                                                    On the part of some "entitled" customers who are of the view that it is, or should be "All about me". and have zero comprehension that life is NOT risk free. I say you do not need them as customers, life is way too short for that aggravation and to have to deal with the obvious minotrity of self loathing folks who like to exercise their sense of false importance and stature on others.

                                                                                                    1. re: jms123

                                                                                                      "I really donlt like to call any chain a restuarant...they are food factories run by robotic clones who do the best they can to annoy the fewest poossible people...but make no mistake...anyone wqith more than one location has an acceptable perecentage of customers they expect to be unhappy...and they live with it"

                                                                                                      "But we looked at each other and said...the cooks are beat...no one was going home to any electicity ..so we just said...sorry...our perogative...next time come in on time."

                                                                                                      It sounds like you have an acceptable percentage of unhappy customers as well, however small that percentage is.

                                                                                                      Just because a restaurant is part of a chain, or a franchise, doesn't mean that the owners care less. In almost all restaurants, if you are a good, regular customer you will be treated better, chain or not. I've had terrible service at places run by a chef-owner, and I've had lovely service at a chain, where the manager bent over backwards to make sure I was pleased with my service.

                                                                                                      1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                                                                                                        Let me clarify...I am talking about the big publicly traded pblaces...

                                                                                                        we do have thiose people ..but I can guarantee that we have done much ore than most to reach a point where we put them in that bucket...and at least we look at them face to face.

                                                                                                        If I ever went to a chain and had the owner come up to me and talk it would be aq shock...then again it wonlt happen...there are no owners...only stockholders...and having spent many of my formative years in employed by one of the largest in the world...I can tell you...for masny of my colleagues...if the paycheck was better selling mufflers...they would leave in a heartbeat,

                                                                                                        Seriously...do you really think that the convenience products made by some of these folks have lpassed the muster of a real taster? If they did...vending machines would be non existant...

                                                                                                        the expectations of the consumer have been tempered by convenience and lack of education...hense...the new debate seen here...do they deservce to get the best?...or can we cut corners because they donlt know any better...

                                                                                                        1. re: jms123

                                                                                                          Either we are talking about different kinds of chains or there is some other kind of misunderstanding going on. I travel for a living. Nine times out of ten when I go out to eat it is with a group of people who I don't know well and have to agree on a restaurant. Usually we end up at a chain, since they are the least offensive and most likely to have something for everyone. I've eaten at unnumerable Olive Gardens, Chili's, Outbacks, TGIFridays, Applebee's, Cheesecake Factories, Maggiano's, etc. It is a rare dinner that a manager doesn't at least come by and check on the meal.

                                                                                                          Any time there have been problems, the managers always bend over backwards to take care of it. Comped drinks, desserts, even meals. Last month I was dining solo at a Texas Roadhouse (or maybe it was a Lone Star or a Longhorn, I get them mixed up) in Topeka, Kansas. The waiter accidentally put in my steak as medium-well rather than medium-rare. He caught it before it went out, came to me and apologized and explained that my steak had to be refired. Hey, no problem, mistakes happen and I'm glad he caught it and told me there would be a delay. I went back to my book.

                                                                                                          In a minute, the manager appeared and apologized for the mistake. He sent over a free beer while I waited. When I got the bill at the end of the meal, my steak was entered as an "employee meal", 50% off. None of that was asked for, or expected.

                                                                                                          Now, maybe he did that because he knew there was a satisfaction survey on my receipt. I don't really care if his motivation was to avoid looking bad on his reports. I'm sure that's why I got an "employee meal" rather than a "discount". Again, I don't care. he tried to make me happy, even when it wasn't expected.

                                                                                                          I've been to plenty of chef-owned/operated restaurants where I faced the equivalent of the Soup Nazi. They aren't all like that, which is why I avoid sweeping generalizations.

                                                                                                          1. re: 2roadsdiverge

                                                                                                            I'm really glad to see a post like this. I also try to avoid this sweeping hatred for all things chain and the unquestioning love for all things mom-and-pop that seems to dominate these boards. I've had good and bad experiences at both types of establishments. Overall, I've had higher highs and lower lows at single unit places, and more consistent experiences at chains, but all places are run by people, and people are as variable as the wind.

                                                                                                  2. Yes. If a fine dining establishment says it closes at 11, what that really means is that they dont take any tables after 11. I worked in fine dining restaurants for 6 years while in college and in grad school and always hated getting those late tables, but if the manager tells the hostess to seat the table they should expect the full dining experience.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: twyst

                                                                                                      I think it depends on the place. Many mean they close, as in you have to go home, at a certain hour. I have gone to places late in the evening, and they've said sorry, the kitchen is closed and I have no problem with that.

                                                                                                      1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                        And others it's more gradual. While they might accept someone 15 minutes for close, it might just before drinks and an app or dessert, not a full course meal. Anyone expecting to get in at 10:45 before an 11 close and have a 90-120-150 minute meal is very, um, entitled (well not in, say, Madrid, but in most of the USA).

                                                                                                    2. I think the one thing that hasn't been mentioned yet, and really needs to be is that when you enter a restaurant, you are entering SOMEONE ELSES HOUSE! That is to say, it is not up to you as the customer to make any demands or rules, that is the owners right. You are there because THEY allow you to be there. It is a privilege, it should be respected as such.

                                                                                                      If you fully understand the above, and have the humility and grace that that understanding brings, you will find that the owners will THEN bend over backwards for you. Amazing how it works really.....

                                                                                                      16 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: nkeane

                                                                                                        That's ridiculous. It's not their house, it's their business. You're not a guest, you're a paying customer, you know, the person who makes it possible for the business owner to keep his business. And sure, he can make the rules, but he should tell you the rules. That's how business deals work: you agree to the terms upfront. If the restaurant doesn't want to serve someone 15 minutes before closing, then tell him and let him choose whether he wants to stay under the "rules" or take his business elsewhere. What's so difficult about that?

                                                                                                        We should be humble and grateful that you allow us to support your business and make a livelihood? Talk about an attitude of entitlement! Nkeane, do you own a business? Because with your attitude, I want to be sure I take my money elsewhere.

                                                                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                          If I own the property, and the business that is housed therein, then it is my right and privilege to decide whom I would like to serve.

                                                                                                          second, the customer does not bestow the right to make a livelihood unto the business owner( that attitude comes from the same place that people with screaming kids and double wide strollers get their righteous indignation from). the business transaction you speak of, exchange of money for services, *starts* with the business owner allowing you into/onto *their* premises! I don't mean that as a power play, just laying it out there as it is. It doesn't have to be stated, just understood. simply stated, yes you should be humble. if you truly are, then the business owner will be as well.

                                                                                                          1. re: nkeane

                                                                                                            Unlike a home, a restaurant exists to serve customers -- no customers, no restaurant. You're not allowing them to come in the door, you need them to come in the door -- restaurants spend lots of money advertising and promoting to get people to come in the door, and if you don't want to "allow" someone in your door, then they have plenty of other options. Apparently you resent the necessity to serve customers, but if you only want to cook for friends and family in your home, then don't open a restaurant! If you expect your customers to be humble and grateful for supporting your business, then you need an attitude adjustment. No one has claimed to be entitled to anything except what they are promised by the restaurant, i.e. that if they are seated by the restaurant and charged for the meal, they will get what they paid for. If you can't live up to your promises, then don't make them.

                                                                                                        2. re: nkeane

                                                                                                          Sounds like the ol' "catch more flies with honey than with vinegar"' point of view. To which I subscribe 100%.

                                                                                                          1. re: nkeane

                                                                                                            This would be a valid argument if it were the custom to go to someone's house for dinner and pay for it. But it's not, so it's not. I'm a compassionate person, so I would be fine with a limited menu and/or unusually speedy service at the end of the night, but I'm also a customer. The restaurant is not doing me a favor by feeding me; it's doing its job.

                                                                                                            I've often seen signs in businesses that say "It is our pleasure to serve you." I've never seen one that said "It is your pleasure to be served by us."

                                                                                                            1. re: small h

                                                                                                              can I ask why you would have more respect for someones home than their place of business? just curious....

                                                                                                              1. re: nkeane

                                                                                                                I reread my post a few times to try to figure out where you got the idea that I have "more respect for someones (sic) home than their (sic) place of business." I still have no idea.

                                                                                                                But if you're actually curious about whether I distinguish between a home and a restaurant, the answer is yes, and I'm quite sure I'm not the only one. I go to someone's home because I am invited there to socialize. I go to a restaurant to purchase a meal. The latter is a business transaction; the former is not. When I am at someone's home, I would expect the person who cooked and served the food to sit down and eat with me. When I am at a restaurant, I would be very surprised if this happened. When I am at a restaurant, I expect to be presented with a bill. When I am at someone's home, I would be very surprised if this happened. Do you truly believe that a restaurant is "SOMEONE ELSES (sic) HOUSE"? Because it isn't. It's someone else's business.

                                                                                                                1. re: small h

                                                                                                                  Exactly. There is no comparison to dinner at a friend's home and dinner at a restaurant. I choose my friends based on how compatible we are and how much I enjoy their company, not on how well they cook or whether I care for the ambiance in their dining room. If a friend prepares a sub-par meal, I'd smile and eat it and it wouldn't affect our friendship. If I restaurant prepares a sub-par meal, I'd bring it to the attention of management (assuming I felt they would be receptive) and decide whether or not to dine with them based on their response. The relationship in the latter case is much more casual and is based on the transaction of food and money, while in the former, the food isn't a factor at all.

                                                                                                                  I think it's great when ANY business owner feels such a sense of pride and ownership that they consider their busineee to be an extension of their own home, but I think the owner is deluding him/herself if they think the relationship between customer and restaurant has much similarity to the relationship between guest and host in someone's actual home. At the end of the day, there's a financial relationship in a restaurant, and that comes with benefits (a livelihood for the owner, a patron who doesn't have to prepare his/her own food, and gets to experience food he/she can't prepare at home) but it comes with a down side as well (less money in the patron's pocket, and expectations of proper behavior from both the host and patron.)

                                                                                                                2. re: nkeane

                                                                                                                  Can I ask you why you have no respect for your customers? You seem to be demanding respect as your due, but only respecting your customers if they're "humble" and "gracious" first.

                                                                                                              2. re: nkeane

                                                                                                                I highly doubt you own a business, nkeane. I own two, been in business for 9 years, and have NEVER felt that I was doing the customer a favor by "allowing" them to do business with me. It has always been and always will be that the customer is doing me a favor by doing business with me. If you don't understand that, please, please never open a business.

                                                                                                                1. re: Rick

                                                                                                                  Not every customer is doing the owner and/or other customers a favor. I've waited on people who came in at the last minute (retail store not restaurant), monopolized my time when other people were waiting and then left without buying anything--20 minutes after I was supposed to be closed and home. Feel free to come late and browse/buy until closing time, but after that please respect that I have a life outside of the store.

                                                                                                                  1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                    I own two car dealerships, I'm happy to wait on a customer at 3:59 on a Saturday when posted closing time is 4:00 and I'll treat that customer as if they walked in at opening time. As is the case with car sales, chances are this one particular customer will actually NOT buy the car (1 in 5 customers or so buys a car), but I'm happy to have the opportunity to sell a car. It's the car sales that allow me to have a life outside of the store. That being said, I have one salesman that feels exactly the same way I do, another salesman that would show the car, but definitely try to hurry the process along.

                                                                                                                    I can see your frustration if you're staying 20 minutes after closing to hopefully sell an item with a small profit. I also understand that one customer monopolizing your time can be frustrating. As I'm sure you do, I often have that gut feeling if I have a good potential customer in front of me or just a tire kicker. In that case I've never felt bad excusing myself from the tire kicker to at least say hello to my other customers and offer to open up any cars for them before returning back to the tire kicker.

                                                                                                                    Do you own the store escondido?

                                                                                                                    1. re: Rick

                                                                                                                      No. The owners do not want sales people to put in extra (read "paid") time so I do have to go with my gut. One of my best sales was someone who came in fairly late on Xmas Eve, apologized all over the place for being late arriving and then proceeded to spend more than a $1000 in fifteen minutes. She thanked me for staying open late, I thanked her for the sale. There's another woman, who has come in 5 minutes before closing 3 times, always makes a big deal about how busy she is, and has yet to buy anything. As for being a late arrival at a restaurant, I just wouldn't do it because I don't go out for "quick" meals in the evening and couldn't enjoy a leisurely meal knowing I was keeping folks from going home--I'm not that important.

                                                                                                                      1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                        'couldn't enjoy a leisurely meal knowing I was keeping folks from going home--I'm not that important.'


                                                                                                                        I wouldn't expect the CVS employee to help me make a photo album 5 minutes before closing either.

                                                                                                                        I think it's about expectations and what is reasonable for other people to help you close to closing time. Employees have homes, kids, school, other jobs maybe a carpool, their own evening out plans.

                                                                                                                        1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                          i agree.

                                                                                                                          Me and my gf wont go into a store (retail) if they about to close in 15mins. I think it just not nice.. (and the chance we might not buy anything)

                                                                                                                          I won't dare go in a restaurant that is going to close in 15mins.. What is the point? Does it make your life better?

                                                                                                              3. I have worked where people can come in up until the last minute, and believe me it was really hard to give it my best. (Not a restaurant.) I try to be sensitive to immanent closing times. It really isn't right to go in 15 minutes before closing and order a meal. And a decent restaurant should have a policy of closing the kitchen at a set time before closing to ensure there is not confusion among staff or customers. But if there are customers still eating, it also isn't right to kick them out right on the nose at closing time. Just my opinion.

                                                                                                                1. I worked in retail and we were open, let's say 10-5. If someone came in at 4:45 I would give them all the help I could, but I would let them know we closed at 5. If they got their shopping done and wanted to make a purchase we would stay open to complete the purchase. But if they were just browsing or simply wanted to hang around, at 5 we say we were sorry we were closing and we'd be happy to see them another day. Sure, we were running a business, but we also weren't looking to pay overtime or make people stay late because someone couldn't/wouldn't respect our hours. People who run a restaurant have a right to make their hours based upon what works for them--customers that come in at the last minute should ask when the kitchen closes and plan accordingly...it's not like they either eat there or starve--there are other options.

                                                                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                    No one is saying that restaurants cannot set the hours they want to set.

                                                                                                                    The issue here is the completely lack of communication on behalf of the restaurant. If the sign says "Open until 11 PM," do you know exactly what that means in the mind of the owner? Does it mean the kitchen closes at 11 PM? Does it mean that if you show up at 10:59 PM you will or will not get full service? Does it mean the kitchen stopped serving at 10 PM and is now closed? What does that actually mean and why is it incumbent upon me, the customer, to somehow guess what is going on in the mind of the owner.

                                                                                                                    Let me give you a great example that occurred this evening as I was on my way home from a pool party. About two miles from my home here in Phoenix, there was a restaurant that had a big, bright red and blue neon sign that was turned on and it said "OPEN." Now, if I had been hungry and pulled into that parking lot, parked my car, got inside only to be told, "Oh, we are open, but the kitchen closed 15 minutes ago," do you think that is fair treatment of the customer? Why, exactly, is that light on? The doors may be unlocked, but that big, bright neon OPEN sign is an invitation and an enticement to get me inside the door and spend the hard earned dollars in my pocket. Is that okay? And if not, how different is that than a sign that says "Open until 11 PM"?

                                                                                                                    For all the talk of customers feeling entitled, I can't help but wonder why posting a sign stating when the kitchen closes is anathema to so many business owners.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Seth Chadwick

                                                                                                                      it's perfectly "fair!" "at one a.m, our establishment is open for cocktails, but not for meals. . ." it's not as if this is uncommon, or in any way unreasonable, for a restaurant to have a somewhat flexible close-down after the reservation book is closed-- the restaurant has served everyone who came with "appointments" and they serve walk-ins *food* as long as it makes business sense to do so, within the general hours of operation of the restaurant, but closing the kitchen down if there is no traffic for food is the individual restaurant's prerogative and it's made nightly at a lot of places. we're not talking about shutting down at 7, we're talking a 20-30 minute window. it doesn't need to be spelled out in neon that can be read from the freeway at every restaurant in the world, any more than "brunch menu is not available at four p.m. on wednesday" needs to be explicitly stated, or "we don't make the gooseberry pie you personally like so much, unless gooseberries are in season and shelly is working." again it's the idea that all hospitality establishments must provide all things possible to all customers at all times, and also somehow owe them an explanation or a hard and fast rule/policy, or a sign that they can point to. . . there are great problems with this idea that if a person buys a beer or a brownie or a seven course tasting menu from a restaurant, that now the customer should make the house rules. there is an even greater problem when the kitchen is closed and a customer can't order a burger, so this person gets bent out of shape that the establishment is serving cocktails in a bar area! this is what rubs people the wrong way about customers with very entitled attitudes! see also the drunk driver or shoplifter screaming abuse at a police officer, closing with: "you can't arrest me, i pay your salary!". . . same sentiment, no? you take it a step further in your post above-- that the establishment you don't even patronize owes you signage/explanation, despite the fact that whatever unstated/unsigned rules the establishment has seem to be working just fine for everyone inside, y'know, actually patronizing the place!

                                                                                                                      i want to be clear about why i myself and so many other people are of the opinion: that entitled people suck. 1) the Entitled Person takes it personally, when there is nothing personal about it (thank you for choosing our emergency room, ma'am, and yes you were here first, but this kid's gunshot wound trumps the two stitches in your finger, and the doctor will see him first) 2) eventually, someone will have to tell the Entitled Person that they can't have the lollipop (and it doesn't matter what the lollipop is), and people who are Entitled think it's all about them, and the next thing that happens is the person wants to rub the rest of the lollipops on their butthole, so that nobody else can have a lollipop, either.

                                                                                                                      posting a sign that states that nobody can be sat for service after 9:30 pm, per your own example, works against the restaurant, works against the customers (including the Entitled her/himself!) and does nothing-- i will repeat: nothing-- other than to placate the Entitled customer's sense of "fairness. . ." correct? cuz-- if i walk into an empty restaurant at 9:29 on a rainy tuesday night and want to order a seven course tasting menu, i should get it, first of all---but if someone tells me the kitchen is closed!?! then by all the powers. . . i don't *ever* want to drive past this same restaurant at 10 on a friday night and see fifteen tables of people enjoying desserts and drinks because obviously this means that the restaurant hates me personally and they owe me service i should have gotten tuesday night!!! am i right? . . .it just doesn't make sense. the sign you are calling for, which is "anathema to so many business owners" --in addition to being poor business sense (more on that later), isn't warm, welcoming or in any way compassionate or on the side of the customer. what's worse is that while driving away the Nice People the restaurant wants to welcome (oh we're too late, we can't eat here, there's a sign. we better go to white castle). . . the Entitled People will *still* try to duck the rules ("i was parking you #$^#!" or, "i don't care what time the atomic clock on the wall says, my father's wristwatch says it's 9:15!" etc.).

                                                                                                                      if two fellows come in at around the same time, and jim, who walks in at 9:29, wants a well done steak--and john, who walks in at 9:31, wants a steak mmr. . . it makes every bit of sense in the world, and is hospitable, for the restaurant to serve both jim and john (whose steak will be done before jim's, despite his coming in afterward, if you follow me). it makes *no* sense to turn john away, bumming him out and alienating him in the process, and flushing his tab income down the toilet, just so that jim can enjoy the lollipop that someone else can't have. serving both jim and john is a win for both customers who are enjoying their steaks and probably better service, and it's a win for the restaurant, 2 happy customers and 2 tabs instead of just one happy customer and 1 tab, and a guy who isn't happy and will probably go badmouth them for not being hospitable even though he was only a minute late according to the ugly sign.

                                                                                                                      the restaurant needs to be able to fulfill its role as a hospitable place, where people's comforts are anticipated and looked after. graciousness and good humor are generally more in play in restaurants than the regimented rules and schedules you call for, which are more suited to chain restaurants and institutional settings, where food is dispensed rather than served, and everyone scrapes their own tray and shuffles off to their cellblock at exactly 5:29, and after that you get nothing. sounds horrible and dehumanizing to me, i'd much rather treat individual people and individual situations individually. these are late night hours. ball games go to extra innings. the theater two blocks away has shows thursday friday and saturday, but not tuesday, wednesday or sunday. weather is beautiful. weather is crappy. the state fair is going on. we're getting overflow from the wedding reception down the block. . . older couples wanting to escape the loud dj music and the boisterous crowd, but not ready to head home, how about just a quiet drink together with a slice of cake, remember when we got married? . . . all kinds of reasons not to let some stupid sign tell a hospitality establishment when to turn people away and bum them out. on that rainy tuesday night? nobody's come in for two hours. it's time to cut seven people and let them go home and save the overtime! keeping a kitchen open just to "be fair" to a customer who may or may not exist just does not cut the mustard. please understand that it's hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, per restaurant-- these daily decisions to keep a kitchen open 10-15 mins longer to be hospitable to an after-theater crowd on a friday night, or to close 10 minutes early on a slow tuesday and not get hosed on labor costs. the restaurant doesn't hate anyone, it's just business. the restaurant wants to be "fair" to its customers, but more importantly needs to be fair to its employees and its own survival--the restaurant doesn't do anyone any good if it closes due to poor management decisions.

                                                                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                        Before anybody comments on Soupkitten's post -- go back and read it again. Now read it one more time.

                                                                                                                        Bravo, Soupkitten -- brilliantly written.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                          This is a very amusing thread....especially considering the entitlement positions. It has been suggested that its the restaurants job to honor closing times, keep the kitchen open, and etc...... right to the very end with the emphasis only on the customer......

                                                                                                                          These people expect to be served and can stay until *they* are satisfied and prepared to leave at their leisure....... I would tell you the *closing time* is there/posted to let these special people know what time they are expected to be *out*.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                            oh, thanks for that, Sunshine :) i suppose we'll see if my post, which is merely my perspective/opinion, will stay-- but i'm glad you enjoyed reading it, even tho it got a little long.

                                                                                                                            i also concur w your perspective upthread, about meeting a restaurant halfway. i too work very unkind hours and am sometimes, to my chagrin, "that guy" walking into a nice place where everyone's been having a good time for hours-- and my shoes are spattered, i have a bandanna on my head and i'm not wearing a whit of makeup to mitigate the fact that i reek of mire poix and sweat. i acknowledge the fact that i am arriving very late, "after the last seating i'm sure, but i'm hopeful the kitchen is still open, even partly, is there anything you can do for me?" a very fair and personable conversation with the front of the house staff *always* follows, and i always wind up getting something to eat! i am actually racking my brain trying to think of a single instance when i wasn't treated hospitably.

                                                                                                                            people may not care for my opinion or my delivery, but i'm not saying anything different than the golden rule. if you are nice and understanding to other people, pleasant times and good food will surely follow.

                                                                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                              Soup kitten, your post was absolutely wonderful. Thanks for providing the long, and wide, view.

                                                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                I loved your post soupkitten! And would add that when I go into a restaurant towards closing time I always assure them that I will order and they can bring me the check right away. Because I am usually somewhere late because I am hungry, not looking for a dining experience.

                                                                                                                            2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                              Nominated for Best Post Ever!

                                                                                                                                1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                  Actually, I've seen longer...in particular a certain review by a NY-based CHer that went over 6,400 words.

                                                                                                                        2. >>>>Should GREAT service be expected 15 minutes before a restaurant closes?

                                                                                                                          If they seat you, yes.

                                                                                                                          They should provide great service, but, unfortunately, many don't.

                                                                                                                          1. Well, I guess if you "Demand GREAT service" from a restaurant 15 minutes before closing; are you going to go back a second time?...I think not. The motivation of the original post might have been more for an urge to debate rather than finding an answer to a genuine perplexing question.

                                                                                                                            1. These seem obvious to me:

                                                                                                                              1) the restaurant has every right not to serve someone, if they can't do it; and they have every right to tell the customer that they close in 15 minutes so it'll be an abbreviated service

                                                                                                                              2) If the restaurant seats the person w/out saying anything, the person should get the same service as everyone else, no matter how tired people who work there are.

                                                                                                                              3) the person should be pleasant (as always) and realize the restaurant is closing and not linger.

                                                                                                                              1. Wow, a lot of good points on this topic. Americans do not respect restaurants or food the way we should. For whatever reason it is ingrained in our DNA that we are to be served like we are royalty. All the while not even doing our part to make the dining experience better. We are rude about 90% of the time and have the audacity to expect wait staff to take the verbal beating with a smile. We don't even leave tips for gods sake. Treating a server or anyone who works in a restaurant like shit during your visit will not make your food taste better, get cooked faster or reduce the price of the meal.

                                                                                                                                If we appreciated food the same way Europeans did, I'm almost positive everyone would have a better dining experience.

                                                                                                                                1. Fifteen minutes before closing? I'd say no - that's expecting a lot, unless you're at a high-end restaurant that has stated to you that they're still open for full service. Many aren't, regardless of the posted "closing " sign.

                                                                                                                                  It also depends on the individual restaurant. We have a lovely semi-high-end Japanese restaurant in our area that we frequent enough to be regulars. Weeknights they close at 10 p.m., & yet when we showed up at 9:30, we were turned away unless we wanted takeout. Everything had already been pretty much shut down. Another Friday night we stopped in at our local little pizzaria, where they also know us on sight, at 10 p.m. (closing was midnight). While they did take our order, they were mopping the floor & putting the chairs up on the tables while we were eating. Bizarre. Especially since restaurants around here are closing right & left.

                                                                                                                                  Frankly, in my opinion, I think it boils down to restaurant greediness. They want their cake & to able to eat it too. They want to post the latest possible "open" time, but when push comes to shove, they don't want to have to serve people who show up within that time.

                                                                                                                                  Restaurants should definitely start gearing their "closing" times to what they're actually willing to still do, because they're not doing themselves any favors by posting closing times that don't actually reflect when the kitchen & servers are actually "closed" to the point where one might get a sub-standard dining experience.

                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Breezychow

                                                                                                                                    Restaurants are struggling to survive, So if there is a slow night they may close early to save money on wages. Having a waitress, bartender, cook and assistant hanging around waiting for someone to maybe come in is an expensive proposition not likely to be reflected in profit--so the owner has to make choices that allow them to open their doors the next day.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                      Almost every business right now is struggling to survive. Just because the restaurant wants to save a few dollars is no excuse. Imagine if all businesses did that. Would you be okay if your bank closed early because they weren't getting enough deposits (especially if you needed an essential banking service)? How about the supermarket that decided to shut down at, say, 7 PM instead of 10 PM because they didn't do much business that day?

                                                                                                                                      If a restaurant lists its hours as 5 PM to 10 PM, it should be open for that length of time barring some uncontrollable emergency. And, no, wanting to save a few dollars by closing early is not an emergency.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Seth Chadwick

                                                                                                                                        On the flip side, most banks are now open on Saturdays, to stay competitive. This is a cost to the bank, an inconvenience to the life of the bank staff, and of course a cost passed on to customers. It's like everyone at a parade standing on their tip-toes trying to see better. Nobody wins for the effort.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Seth Chadwick

                                                                                                                                          We just see this differently. If I arrive at a restaurant half an hour before it closes and it's already closed, it's just an oh well and I do something else. I've gone to restuarants that were closed because of a private party, too full to seat me, so I just move along. Now, to make the bank analogy fit, it would have to be the only restaurant and it had my food inside. I don't consider eating out an "emergency" so it doesn't really bother me.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Seth Chadwick

                                                                                                                                            Only if you make a reservation and they fail to honor it..... If you want to assure a seat, make a reservation. It's that simple.

                                                                                                                                      2. I think it would be great if restaurants would universally adopt a "last seating" time instead of a "closed" time. This thread proves that there is no definite answer to what "closing" time means to each person.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Rick

                                                                                                                                          please read Soupkitten's response upthread.

                                                                                                                                        2. From open to close and beyond. The customer is the purpose of your work, not an interruption of it.

                                                                                                                                          1. I wouldn't go to a restaurant with only 15min to close (or even 30 in most cases) but I do think that service should be exactly the same as it was 3 hours previous. I manage a retail store and we're open until 9pm. That means my door is unlocked, registers are open and we're ready to help whoever walks in right up until close. Does it cut into the time I have to close down the store? Yes. Does it irritate the hell out of me and my employees? Yes. Does it really matter what we think about it? Nope b/c that's part of our job!

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: erisgrrrl

                                                                                                                                              see this surely depends on
                                                                                                                                              1) what you sell - if you are retail that sells newspapers, cigarettes and candy then a customer right on closing does not impact you much if they are running in to buy a lighter.
                                                                                                                                              2) if you are more like a CVS but the customer knows you are about to close anyway and runs in to buy a bottle of Ibuprofen
                                                                                                                                              3) you are a dress store and the customer has decided it's time to buy a suit - well now what?

                                                                                                                                              Now go to a restaurant - scenario 1) customer wants a premade box of nuggets and you still have them, 2)you don't mind making a pizza because the pizza oven is still on and the station has not broken down yet, 3) a full scale meal with service.

                                                                                                                                              It also depends on how long the store or restaurant or business takes to close down for the evening.

                                                                                                                                            2. The more I think of this, the more I agree with a "last seating" time (though I also understand this could be subjective; a party of 8 will take longer than a solo diner; two people camping out will take longer than a couple who is in a rush, etc.). But really, the concept of a last seating is not unlike a last call in a bar, right?

                                                                                                                                              Many places I go state on their website that the kitchen is open until ____ and the bar is open until ____, but obviously that doesn't work for some places.

                                                                                                                                              1. Short answer to the OP is "yes".

                                                                                                                                                If they are open for business, seating you ready to eat a full menu, then they should be offering their usual full service. It is much more common to see restaurants stating a "last order" or "last seating" time.

                                                                                                                                                1. it depends on the restaurant.
                                                                                                                                                  if i'm at a white=tablecloth, very expensive, restaurant, with a deep bench of service people, MAYBE i could HOPE FOR great service a few minutes before close.

                                                                                                                                                  all other, more reasonably priced restaurants, in my experience, are not staffed to provide this level of service.

                                                                                                                                                  to answer the question of SHOULD great service be expected 15 minutes before close, i guess the answer is the same as the answer to the question of SHOULD i be young, tall, thin, blonde, rich, and able to walk in stilettos.
                                                                                                                                                  in a parallel universe, maybe. . . .

                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                                                                                    I'm just wondering. I thought restaurant wont allow customer to go in if it close in 15min. Because restaurant kitchen close half hour before the diner room.
                                                                                                                                                    Should GREAT service be expected 15 minutes before a restaurant closes? In short answer YES!!

                                                                                                                                                    But in reality just put yourself in that situation. You are a waiter/waitress and customer come in 15min before it close. Sure the waiter will give excellent service.. but dont expect excellent foods. Because inside the kitchen people already cleaning/packing up for next day.
                                                                                                                                                    Also in restaurant business waiter/waitress or chef won't pay Overtime)

                                                                                                                                                  2. Yes.

                                                                                                                                                    A restaurant has the option to determine their hours of operation, and when they will seat the last group(s). One should be able to expect the best, that they have to offer, regardless.

                                                                                                                                                    We once had lunch at a restaurant in downtown Honolulu, and could not get there. That day, the manhole covers blew about 2 - 3 stories, and all streets were closed. We were on the cell phone, announcing our progress, or lack thereof. They told us to come anyway.

                                                                                                                                                    When we arrived, lunch was over, and the place almost empty. We were ushered to our table, and our server stopped by - all was calm and in order. We placed our choices, and the service staff fawned over us. At some times, they swapped out, as they were being served lunch, themselves, but never were we slighted - a server was at our beck and call. They did not miss one beat.

                                                                                                                                                    OTOH, we had 9:00PM reservations at a high-level restaurant in New Orleans. We were seated a 10:45PM, and then promptly told that almost everything was unavailable, and that we'd better order in a few minutes, as they were about to close the kitchen. We struggled to find anything, that was still available, as each choice was met with "sorry, but it's too late to order that." We finally made some choices, and then waited, and waited, only to find that our servers had left, and the few remaining servers were not interested. All was very bad.

                                                                                                                                                    After that, guess which I would go to again? You are correct, Indigo in Honolulu. The other, Dickey B's Steakhouse - not on a bet. Some years later, a favorite nephew was sous chef there, and begged us to give them another try. We refused. He now has his own restaurant in CT, and I would fly there, before I'd give Dickey B's another chance - they had that already.

                                                                                                                                                    If one is seated, they should be able to expect the best, that a restaurant has to offer, regardless of the time of night. If it's too late, then that is management's option to shut the doors earlier.


                                                                                                                                                    23 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                      As far as working until shift change, have you ever been involoved with a production operation where the current shift starts "cleaning up", (mostly consists of talking and washing up,showering, etc.) at least 30 minutes before the shift is over? So much so that in "union contract operations" it is written into the work rules.You as a supervisor or owner will have a very difficult time retaining personnel trying to insist upon them working up to the "Bell".

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                                                                        If a shower is part of the job description, then I would expect that the assembly line would shut down in time to accommodate that. Not sure that a shower, or similar, is in the job description of most servers, but could well be wrong.

                                                                                                                                                        If the closing times are meaningless, at what point, prior to the published times, should one expect the best that the restaurant has to offer? Should one figure 1 hour? Or maybe 2 hrs.? Perhaps if they close at 11:00PM, per their posted hours, one should only expect great service until 6:00PM, as obviously, the staff is winding down, and getting ready to get off.

                                                                                                                                                        Just curious,


                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                          Here's the bottom line from talking with several cooks and servers: Generally speaking, the "closing time" is usually the latest that one will be seated and very rarely, if ever, a time where everything stops and patrons are asked to leave. The place closes at 10PM and you walk in at 9:58, you get seated. Yes, in most places, there is some flexibility in both directions.
                                                                                                                                                          From the servers and cooks: you will get good service (with a smile) although they will probably not try to push dessert, coffee or a port on you like they might have earlier in the evening. You will get food that is as good as it was for someone who ate 2 hours earlier (unless it was 86'd).

                                                                                                                                                          One might not care but I can assure you that if you are now the only table in the house there is also a good chance that everyone waiting on you or cooking your food now hates you with a passion (with the possible exception of the owners). Like it or not, that's just the way it is. If they’re good, and most are, you won’t be able to tell and you’ll still tip nicely – but they still hate you. By the way, the guy at Kinko's who's working late on your print job - he may be smiling but he hates you too.

                                                                                                                                                          But don’t feel bad because at some level in our business dealings, we hate (or at least dislike) some of the people we have to deal with, often with a smile. Personally, I don’t like being hated, so to minimize the hate that comes my way (bad Karma), I try not to eat or do business at the very end of someone’s work day.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                            This is an excellent summary. The best employees at that point are the best actors.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                              heh. now, hate is a strong word :)

                                                                                                                                                              as others have stated, there isn't a big giant switch in the kitchen that gets flipped, and that's it, we're closed. . . there is a whole closing routine/procedure. equipment gets turned off, ingredients repackaged and put away, dishes washed, prep areas broken down and cleaned and sanitized. it takes many people hours, but it gets done so incrementally that there is no specific time that one of 50 ingredients is put away or the wind oven gets shut off. on busy nights, of course closing down will start later and take longer. if you walk into a restaurant kinda late, and meals are still flying out of the kitchen, it may be perfectly reasonable to tack on one more ticket-- the cooks are still working anyway, the server will be glad for the extra table/tip, the management will not turn away the added profit. it's hospitable to welcome you, it makes customers happy, it makes business sense. likewise if someone walks in quite late, and wants their order to go. likewise if someone walks in quite late, and only wants a dessert and coffee/cocktail, not a full meal. no problem!

                                                                                                                                                              but it's reasonable for the management to assume that nobody is going to come in at 2 minutes to close and order a steak that takes ten minutes to cook, or a coursed meal that will take an hour and a half. when traffic for food has ceased the cooks will begin to break down their stations and clean. during this time, if a late arrival comes in, it may still be possible to get a burger or a salad or something, but at a certain point, y'know. . . we're very sorry but the broiler is off. the fish station is closed. someone has returned all the ingredients to cambros in the basement walk-in. someone is standing over the nearly-cold stove, scrubbing the interior of the hood vent. the dishwasher is rolling up the floor mats and hauling twice his own weight in compost and recycling and trash outside on carts. all the prep areas have been sanitized. . . sorry, but abuelita mimi has gone home, and there are no more tamales. it does not make business sense to get it all out, turn it all back on and start it all over to make someone a $6 small plate-- though perhaps we could still do a bread basket or a slice of cake, especially if you seem like a nice fellow. shutting down a restaurant kitchen is nothing like shift change in a hospital, the slog a restaurant dishwasher must go through at the end of the night is nothing like a worker at a call center, who hangs up the phone and goes home--just to be clear.

                                                                                                                                                              i think that the prevalence of fast food establishments, with full menu available right up to the posted close-time, has led to folks thinking that sit-down full service restaurants must operate the same way, although this has never been the case. full-service restaurants have always gone by their reservation books and general walk-in traffic. when the reservation book is closed and traffic has ceased, the kitchen will begin preliminary or actual closing break-down. at a certain point it isn't reasonable for the staff to think folks will be coming in and beginning a two hour meal ritual. most late arriving customers look at the posted closing time and think "can i order and eat ____ in that amount of time" and if the answer is yes, chances are it's reasonable. some folks think they should be able to get a full "happy meal" at the last minute though. it's problematic and the restaurant and staff just can't win in the situation, the poor server is on the phone telling her mom she's got a camper table and won't be able to pick her kids up until after midnight. . . meanwhile putting on the "take your time, all's well" act for the folks at the table. dining, as we know, is theater, and most folks in hospitality would rather stub their own toe really really hard than tell a customer "no, there is absolutely nothing we can offer you," so there you have it.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                  I was thinking more along the lines of the full coursed meal 15 minutes before "closing" at a place that will seat you and serve the entire menu as long as you walked in the door prior to that closing time. Cup of coffee and a slice of pie while several other tables are on their last course then I agree with you, no problem. Four course meal starting while the last people are finishing their meals? Yeah, they hate you. That word was the universal response from the several in the business that I asked. They don't hate you as in I want to see you dead hate, but rather in that "I hate people who come in 15 minutes prior to close for a four course meal" type of hate.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                    i think we're on the same page :) some other folks have stated that if a place isn't serving full meals past a certain time, then they should change the posted business hours and also turn other customers (who may not want full meals) away, and since i don't agree w that, i wanted to attempt to explain why, and also why that late night slice of pie may be perfectly okay, if anyone is worried about that.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                      Lately, I've actually started seeing hours posted on those boards outside - I forget what they're called - that read something like "Dinner 5:30 - close". That's a novel approach to this issue.
                                                                                                                                                                      "We serve right up to the time we close"
                                                                                                                                                                      "What time do you close?"
                                                                                                                                                                      "When we stop serving"
                                                                                                                                                                      Problem solved.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                          The store close at 1am and you go in 12:45am and you expect to have full service?

                                                                                                                                                                          anyway I owned a restaurant in Boston. My restaurant close at 1Am, But i usually tell my worker to close the door at 12:45. Unless some jerk come in before 12:45 and we will lock the door and wont let anymore customer to come in after 12:45. (they could only order to take out).

                                                                                                                                                                          My worker is happy,

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Aznmask

                                                                                                                                                                            [Quote] ...Unless some jerk come in before 12:45...[/Quote]

                                                                                                                                                                            Are you freakin' KIDDING ME????? Do everyone a favor and tell us the name of your restaurant so we don't become "jerks" and patronize your establishment because apparently that's how you feel about your customers.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                Ok, rereading his post he mixed his tenses. Either way, my point is made (and no wonder he no longer owns a restaurant).

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                                                                                                                  I guess you dont want to patronize any restaurant on the face of the planet becuase that is exactly how every restaurant worker feels when someone comes in minutes before close. If you dont understand why then you clearly have never worked in the busines.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                                                                    that seems to be a common thread through this entire conversation...those who've worked in restaurants are on one side, those who have not are on the other.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                      sunshine 842......Yup, let's do our "fill ups" before we close!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                        cant judge a person until you have walked a day in their shoes! I guarantee people would change their (usually degrading) attitudes about people in the food service industry.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                                                                          People do not have an absolute right to be served when they enter a restaurant.....and as such, if they are served, they need to be reminded they are guests and the house is not a bunch of servants at their beck and call.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                                                            you are right that people do not have an absolute right to be served when they enter a restaurant, UNLESS the establishment is denying service based on Race, Alienage or Nationality (Federal Constitutionally protected rights). In some states this may be expanded to include, gender, age, sexual orientation, etc, as defined by state law.

                                                                                                                                                                                            That said, the patron is NOT a guest, the patron is a customer. The patron is paying for service and product. And, while under the law the patron is a BUSINESS INVITEE, the patron, unless invited to enter for a free meal is not a guest

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                                                                        I guess you haven't read this thread or you would know that I have worked every position in a restaurant, from dishroom to management.

                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                                                                                                                        I own another restaurant now. BTW as restaurant worker we have 2 kindsof face. One infront of the customer(smile) and one behind when they left.

                                                                                                                                                                                        So please dont hate me. I just tell you the truth.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                      The answer could be, get to know the establishment, as a regular you are afforded more consideration than the " tourist" that is justpassing through. I know what establishments I can expect to go into late, what places I would not feel comfortable doing same, and even in my very fav places I can expect to have the owners, employees,joining me for dinner and sitting at my table after they are closed.It just takes a little evaluation of each situation, remember you are eating it .....Do you really want to piss of the staff as they prepare and serve your food????

                                                                                                                                                                2. We as Americans do not have appreciate food and service the same way they do in say, Europe. That's what it boils down too. We will always be known globally as 'rude' 'fat' Americans until we can appreciate things. The consumer is the reason why restaurants exists but the American consumer is also the reason why the rest of the world thinks 'American' cuisine is a cheeseburger and fries. Learn to have a genuine appreciation for food and service and try not to treat food as utility akin to breathing. It's more of an art form than anything.

                                                                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cookedfood

                                                                                                                                                                    Saying that "European service" is a.) all the same and b.) always good is as misguided as the notion that all Americans are fat, rude and clueless. Honestly, some of the worst service I've ever received in a restaurant was in Europe. And no, I'm neither fat nor rude.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                      Most likely at a place that caters to Americans, ior has hjad enough of boorish tourists, or a place that the foreigner just did not understand local customs.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                                                                                        Absolutely not -- there are dopey, slow, inattentive, rude servers in ALL countries -- in all situations. And I'm *only* talking about the ones that don't cater to tourists, and some of those I was with local people, who were frankly embarassed to have me see such a display of ineptitude.

                                                                                                                                                                        Brains, efficiency, and politesse do not automatically exist in Europe...sometimes far from it.

                                                                                                                                                                        Much as most folks would like to believe otherwise, Americans do not have a corner on the market for stupid/slow/rude/incompetent/arrogant -- nor do Americans own any monopoly on cultural bias.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                            sunshine....true I should have subed "tourist" for Americans, actually any foreigner can be a ambassador of ill-will for the land that they are from....i.e. newly mega rich Russians in St. Moritz, that I had the displeasure of observing; that was a classic in obnoxiousness.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: ospreycove

                                                                                                                                                                            No on all counts, actually, but thanks for playing the generalization game!

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Depends on what you consider to be great service. I've only ever gone to restaurant that close to closing time once in my life. When we entered the hostess told me they were about to close the kitchen, but she would see what they could do for us. She came back a few minutes later and said they could make us burgers or a couple of other items that I can't remember.

                                                                                                                                                                        We sat, ordered burgers and received the normal level of service one would expect at a small neighborhood pub. They asked if we wanted dessert at the end of the meal which we declined as their was only one other table left and we were sure the staff wanted to wrap up. When they brought the check, our beers had been comped for the "inconvenience". To me, that was great service.

                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: donovt

                                                                                                                                                                          I think this is the way it should go, ideally, w/out all the above complaining and passive aggressiveness. The restaurant is supposed go close at a certain time and it's their discretion whether or what to serve. Both parties are amenable and willing to work with each other. The comping was unnecessary but an added level of service. If the restaurant chooses to serve the customers, they should do it nicely. If the customers choose to stay, they also should act appreciatively. Being kind, on both sides, goes a long way; rather than griping about how hard jobs are, and, hopefully, assures the customer will return. Kudos to you and everyone involved.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                            The comping was completely unnecessary. I honestly think it was done as a thank you for eating our food and then getting out as quickly as possible.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Assuming that I want to be a well-behaved customer, how do I know what time to not walk into a restaurant? If my meeting ran late & it is 9:15pm & I need a meal, do I skip all the places that have a 10:00 closing and try to find one with a 11:00 (or later) closing? I've read all the messages about how long it takes to break down a kitchen & how as a customer, I should be sensitive to this. That's great & I get it but I've never worked in a restaurant and have no idea how that time relates to the time on the website. Other than driving to the restaurant and peering in the window to see if they are full/empty how am I supposed to know when the restaurant/server wants my money and when they just want me to go away and pick a different place that is open later?

                                                                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: _jj_

                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, skip the 10s and go for the 11s, unless you are planning on one course and eating it rather quickly.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                              OK, got-it. The posted time should be considered the "leave-the-restaurant" time.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: _jj_

                                                                                                                                                                              Ask. When you go into the 10-closer, ask them if it's too late. Ask them if they are still cooking, and what might still be available.

                                                                                                                                                                              Acknowledge that they are getting to the end of THEIR workday. You wouldn't want your boss to tell you at 9pm, just as the meeting is winding down, that he's scheduled another meeting for you at 9:30, but you don't mind writing a report in time for it, would you?

                                                                                                                                                                              Be cognizant that they are people who want to go home to THEIR dinners and families and homes, too....that's all anyone is asking.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                If I'm scheduled to work until 10, I'm scheduled to work until 10. Whether that work is doing something new for my boss or whether that work is doing something previously assigned, that's my agreed-to schedule. It may be that I'm more tired than I would be at the beginning of the day but I wasn't planning to quit work and go home at 9 if the agreed to time was 10.

                                                                                                                                                                                The problem with this at a restaurant is that the time on the door is not well defined. It isn't said whether it is the "last seating" time or the "be-done-and-out-the-door" time or the "kitchen closed" time. We have to guess. (This is compounded because in many cases the restaurant doesn't WANT to define the time because they want the owner/manager to determine on a nightly basis what time to close the kitchen/send people home based on the number of customers and the expense of the workers.)

                                                                                                                                                                                The other problem is that many people will LIE when asked whether it is ok to eat because they don't want to (be caught) telling you that no, we really are closing down & would prefer you not stay tonight. I've had it happen to me - what I was told when I ASKED, was very different from the ATTITUDE I got from my server.

                                                                                                                                                                                So now, I'm supposed to be able to read the situation to determine whether someone is lying to me or not and I'm supposed to be all apologetic for the fact that I'm asking someone to do work at the end of their workday..... (more so than in any other business relationship)

                                                                                                                                                                                At some point, it is easier to just skip the whole dance....... of course then I'll miss out on that great restaurant that has posted their "last seating" time on the door and actually welcomes customers until that time.....

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: _jj_

                                                                                                                                                                                  your statement that "the meeting ran late" indicates that your day is *supposed* to end some time before the meeting ended.

                                                                                                                                                                                  If you are supposed to work until 10 and the meeting ended at 9:15, then it's moot point.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: _jj_

                                                                                                                                                                                If you enter a restaurant around 9:15 and it close at 10, i think it is okay to do so. But make sure you finish eating before 10.

                                                                                                                                                                                But if you want to enjoy your meal and dont want to rush yourself then you should seek for a restaurant close 11.

                                                                                                                                                                              3. If I am seated I expect a restaurant's normal service. If the restaurant I am going to is one that strives to provide great service, I would expect great service regardless of the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                The restaurant does not have to seat me if they are not inclined to, and they are entitled to advise me that the menu is limited because of the hour.

                                                                                                                                                                                They are not entitled to seat me, tell me it will be no problem, and expect me to voluntarily tip 20% if they are determined to give me rushed food and inferior service. If I am paying full price and you are OPEN, I fully expect food and service commensurate with that restaurant's norm. Otherwise you are cheating me of my money and I will refuse improperly cooked food, and tip according to your inferior service.

                                                                                                                                                                                If you decide to provide me inferior service, I will provide you an inferior tip.

                                                                                                                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: tongue_to_tail

                                                                                                                                                                                  People want to go home at that point, the money isnt an issue. We want to go home, shower, eat dinner and see our families. You are preventing that from happening, so no amount of money is worth it.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                                                                    So you want to go home and therefore feel justified providing inferior service even though your restaurant chose to admit a customer who is going to pay full price. Brilliant!

                                                                                                                                                                                    You know, it's amazing hearing you and realizing you take zero pride in your work.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Once seated, the customer is there. Ignoring them and being passive-aggressive isn't going to make the customer magically disappear or get you home more quickly.

                                                                                                                                                                                    No one is asking you to like your job. They are saying you should do it properly.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Do you disagree that you should do your job properly?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: tongue_to_tail

                                                                                                                                                                                      What if they just tell you before seating you that the meal is going to be rushed?

                                                                                                                                                                                      This is the type of thing that I wish would happen more: if the restaurant doesn't want to seat me because it's too late, just tell me so. If they will happily seat me provided that I eat quick, tell me that as well. Drinks only - let me know. Upfront.

                                                                                                                                                                                      The problem is too many customers have gotten all hot and bothered at restaurant staff just for being honest and upfront about the realities of the business. Everybody I've ever spoken to in the business has horror stories about customers throwing a tantrum because someone told them 'no.' So too many restaurant workers are hesitant to just be upfront with other customers about what they can provide, and instead a little too liable to seat you when they'd rather leave - not a word of warning - and then feel pissy about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Despite all the apparent claims to the contrary on this thread, a restaurant meal is a business transaction between two parties, and the needs of both parties should matter.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                        Exactly. That is good service to me. If I know what to expect and you meet those expectations, what's the problem?

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                          Of course that would be fine. As I was getting at in my original post, if the restaurant lays out their capabilities (of lack thereof) up front, that is perfectly acceptable, and better yet, even preferable.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: tongue_to_tail

                                                                                                                                                                                          You are missing the point completely.

                                                                                                                                                                                          You know whats really funny? I am in restaurant management, and as part of my job I strictly enforce the "all customers get the same great serivice until we are closed" crap because I would lose my job if I turned a customer away before closing time. Not my choice, or those that work for me. However, I am as annoyed, maybe even more because I am salary when people come in minutes before close it does cut into MY time.

                                                                                                                                                                                          You can say whatever you want about pride in work or anything else that you are spewing but the facts remains the same. It is a physically and mentally demanding job that you dont appreciate until you have lived it. try it some day and get back to me

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                                                                            While I thank you for generously inviting me to try your job one day, I, more realistically, invite you to answer the simple question I posed to you.

                                                                                                                                                                                            If you do, perhaps you'll realize I'm not missing any point, but that, in fact, you are.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Though I suppose you characterizing as "crap" that "all customers [should] get the same great service until we are closed" kind of makes that evident enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tongue_to_tail

                                                                                                                                                                                              And let me add one more thing, Joe. On Sept 12, just three weeks ago, you stated that Modern Pizza in New Haven, CT should close down their kitchen and reject customers when the night has reached into the later hours and their oven has dropped slightly in temperature. (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8068...).

                                                                                                                                                                                              How does that not entirely contradict everything you have stated here -- that people just don't understand the restaurant industry and the lack of control people such as yourself have?

                                                                                                                                                                                              It seems to me you expect other people to empathize with you, but not you with them.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tongue_to_tail

                                                                                                                                                                                                there is no correlation at all between these 2 threads. one has a human element, one has a mechanical on (cold pizza oven = inferior product). I was there well before close.

                                                                                                                                                                                                and if you need to do further backgroung checking on me, just send me an email and I can send you my social security number and birthday...CREEPY

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: tongue_to_tail

                                                                                                                                                                                                in the robot world you would be right

                                                                                                                                                                                                in this world, when people get tired mentally and physically, not so much

                                                                                                                                                                                                we are human - I dont know what else to tell you

                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                                                                                                joe777cool - how is that customer supposed to know what time it is ok to enter your restaurant? Why don't you ask your management to post both a "last seating" time and an "out-the-door" time? If your management says it is ok for a customer to enter 2 minutes before the posted closing time and that they should get "the same great service" but isn't paying you to provide that service then you have an issue with your management, not the customer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: _jj_

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Because it just isn't done that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sometimes life isn't spelled out in black and white, and you have to open your mouth and ask them if the kitchen is still open.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  There's plenty of commentary on this thread from people all over the world to draw the conclusion that there are no rules, even in the same establishment on concurrent nights.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  If you want set hours, then you have to stick with fast food, because they have black-and-white rules.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: _jj_

                                                                                                                                                                                                    You make a very good point when you say the issue is with management, and you are right. They are the ones who decide when to close, regardless of how tired the staff may be. Good point.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Which I suppose leaves me to ask the restaurant industry workers who have replied here one question:

                                                                                                                                                                                            If you provide a patron with inferior service do you still feel entitled to a full tip?

                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tongue_to_tail

                                                                                                                                                                                              Of course they do. Isn't it obvious that a customer's only purpose is to give free money to the staff?

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. In Japan, it is common for restaurants to indicated two closing times. "Last Order" means the time they stop taking orders for food, and "Closing" time, when they expect people to leave.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                                                                                                In my restaurant, we close 1am, but we stop taking any order after 12:45.

                                                                                                                                                                                                If you enter 12:45 we won't cook for you. (unless u just buy a soda)

                                                                                                                                                                                                1:00am we have to ask people to leave..

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I'd always assumed that the posted closing time meant the out-the-door time and always left enough time for myself to do so—so, in answer to the OP's question, I wouldn't even go at only 15 minutes before closing unless it was to get a takeaway. But now after reading all the posts here, I wonder if I'm wrong and some closing times just mean that last time they'll take customers in. It would be nice if they did as Tripeler says is done in Japan: posting both a "last order" and a "leave now" time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. By coincidence I posted a comment a few days ago on Chow stories, regarding the same problem. Central Florida, well known so called upscale chain; Half an hour to go before lunch closing time. Server approached table and advised, "I have an appointment in half an hour, You have to be out of here by that time." Fifteen minutes later came by with the same nonsense. Complaining did no good but this guy did manage to ruin a $300 company lunch. Same evening went to very well know seafood emporium (also chain); very busy - Finally got a table. Half way through a mediocre meal, server came by and incredibly dumped a doggie box and the check on the table, along with the great words, "You are not going to eat all that, box it up and take it home, I have nine people waiting for your table." In both cases the servers, quite obviously are in the wrong profession.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: reinaldok

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Good lord. On both of them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    First one...ever hear of table sharing? When you absolutely have to leave at the end of your shift, you transition your tables over to a colleague, who will then split the tip with you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Second one -- all I can say is that I *hope* you weren't there with clients. Yeegads. I think I'd have camped out just for spite.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Where I live there's the closing time and the last orders in time. If you're already in the restaurant, eating, the waiter will come to your table and ask if there's anything else you want, as kitchen/restaurant is closing soon. If you arrive late and they let you in, it means kitchen/bar are still open and you can order. But having said this, I don't like going to a restaurant just before they take last orders, say 15-20 minutes before, as invariably food and service aren't that good, usually rushed and cranky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pf2910

                                                                                                                                                                                                      And see, that is the point most of us are making. If they wish to establish a "last call" time, that is fine and acceptable. But we expect the food and service to be the same ten minutes before last call as it is 10 minutes after supper service starts. That is not asking too damn much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Anytime a restaurant seats me or any other business lets me in the door, I should get the same service whether it’s 15 minutes after opening or 15 minutes before closing (which is usually a very gray time in the restaurant business). As stated before, that is what SHOULD happen but the reality is that, 15 minutes before closing ANY business, the employees have been working all day, they may be cranky, they may have somewhere else they need to be, etc., and therefore, the EXPECTATION of great service is probably a little naïve. Whatever the business, to expect whoever is working to be as sharp at the end of an 8-hour shift as they were at the start is foolish. As also noted, most people in the hospitality business are very good at their jobs and you probably will not notice any difference in service but there’s a good chance that there will be a difference. Service might not appear to be rushed, but it’s also doubtful that you will wait long between courses either. The “upselling” will be nominal or non-existent (not necessarily a bad thing). They probably will not try to push appetizers or salads on you. The dessert question will likely sound like “…can we get you anything else?” vs. (while placing the dessert menu in front of you) “…the pastry chef has put together a wonderful trio of crème brulee which he has terrifically paired with a 20 year old port, blah, blah, blah…”
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Look, would you expect the same 40-minute fitting on a new suit when you walked in 15 minutes before closing? Or maybe it will become a 25-minute fitting? Most people whose job is supposed to be done at a certain time start watching the clock a bit before that time arrives. Many are also in professions where they have to finish with the customer that they’re dealing with even if it goes past that time. Most of those, whether it’s your server or your doctor, will try to move things along as quickly as possible (while still providing GOOD service) so they can get out of there. That is human nature. The restaurant business is very unique in that, one minute it might look like you’ll be going home in 15 minutes and then a 4-top shows up for the 5 course Full Monty and you’re working for 2 more hours. If they seat you, you’re more than entitled to good service but it’s also reasonable for it to be a little less sharp at the very end of someone’s shift. I, for one, would not be comfortable walking into a restaurant 15 minutes before closing and, seeing only a few tables eating dessert, decide that a 5 course meal would be OK.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        And that's the point that the rest of us have been making...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                          You make some good points.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          However, I suppose that I come from a different area of the "service industry," as I was always expected to give my best, regardless of how long the day was going, or how many projects I had done that day. In my case, there were no "opening times," and no "closing times," so much will not apply here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          My suggestion to restaurants would be to set hours of operation, that specify a "last seating," or a "kitchen closing time," and stick to that. Next, instruct the staff of what is expected, and inform all of the exact hours, plus expectations for those hours. If the staff is tired, or cranky, then it might be time to find others, who will be willing to work the full, specified hours, with not slow-down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          That is how I would handle things, but maybe there is more to be considered, than what I see and experience as a patron, and not a restaurant owner?


                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                            You aren't the infamous Bill Hunt of L'Americaine fame are you?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jms123

                                                                                                                                                                                                              No, at least not that I know of.


                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hospitality does not draw lines in the sand...if you want to capoture customers...flexibility and rule breaking gioes hand in hand with the end in mind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              playing this strategically...let a customer see you bend the rules, break the standard and make them feel special and you will have a cstomner for life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              The majority of the reasoning behind the need for this thread at all seems to come from emploiyees wants and needs...not customers...if you donlt get small pleasure from sweeping a floor, washing dishes with the staff at 1am ... waiting late for a good customner...cleaning the grease off a hood...digging in the snow during ablizzard for a lost ring...(which we found two days later and drove to the home at 8 am to deliver in hand)...and getting your nice pants dirty...you should not be in food service ..period...unfortunatly that is noit the case with most people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              that being said...some of the reasons for all this discussion come not from a customer asking to be seated late and expecting prompt and efficicient service...but
                                                                                                                                                                                                              the reaction to campers, boorish behavior, inconsiderate and slovelnly diners...the service staff is reacting to that as well...and there are times when cleverly created efforts to move them along can be employed...

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Quite a sense of entitlement by so many.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        A place closes at 1100 and if you show up at 1045 you expect a full 90 minutes of perfect service? Since others are so quick on the "well they're open" position. OK, sit at 1045. Order at 1050. Appetizers take 15 minutes to prepare. They boot your self-entitled butt out the door at 11. Then the person comes here and trashes the place because they were inconsiderate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        From my point of view if a customer knows something takes an hour to complete, have the common decency to plan better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        47 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: RichWhite


                                                                                                                                                                                                          Much would depend on whether the stated hours are for the closing of the kitchen, or the closing of the restaurant. Those are totally different things.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have dined at many places, where the doors close at X, but diners are allowed to finish. I have also dined at others, where the hours of operation are Y, but the kitchen closes at Z. It all depends, and should be up to the management to decide what the hours of operations of both the house and the kitchen are. Those should be posted, and if a patron is on some borderline, they should be so informed.


                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Former instructor of mine at the Cul Inst of America,,,taught table service...your balanced approach to this issue made me wonder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I am at my restaurant now with a unique problem...Sat nighty...8:45...still an hour and a half to go till kitchen cloises...dining room is full of campers and several parties are waiting...past the time we rold them...

                                                                                                                                                                                                            The issue in this thread is easier to tolerate if the room is full and the partoies showing up late follow the ones who wont leave...I wonder what it will be like in a hour...we aleways have some late ones...always try and accomodate tyhem as best we can...but we've been here since 6am..long days make it tough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            tho issue of service is exacerbated when someone shows up at the end and the room has been slow or empty...

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jms123

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Those are individual calls, and it's up to the management to make them. I know of no "hard and fast rules," and would anticipate the each owner, or manager, would need to take in the situation as a filter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Do not think that I mentioned it in this thread, and if I did, I apologize. Had ~ 9:30PM reservations at a big-name restaurant in the French Quarter (New Orleans). We were told that we would be seated in due time. That ended up being ~ 10:45PM. Then, we were told that the kitchen would be closing in about 5 mins. and we had to get our order in instantly. We were also told that most dishes were unavailable, as it was so late! Guess which restaurant we will never return to? Even when a favorite nephew was sous chef there, and begged us to give them another try, we respectfully declined. Once was enough, at least for us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Were I the manager, and was running THAT late on seatings, I would have approached the patrons, waiting for a bit over an hour, and offered to make it up to them, or would have seated them, and kept the necessary staff over, to feed them. Their call, and in my case, they missed it, big time. Also, the food that we DID get, seemed to have been dishes that were returned, and were run through the mic, just for us. When I see recs. for that restaurant, I just cite that incident, so that others can prepare for waiting over an hour for their confirmed reservations, and then not be surprised, when their choices are limited to only dishes that had been returned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Do I feel "entitled?" Yes, as I had fulfilled my duties to make the reservation, months out, and then had shown up at the appointed time, only to be "dissed," by the establishment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Closing time, and the time that a kitchen closes (no more orders) should be posted and adhered to, at least by my thinking, as a diner/patron.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Good luck, and hope that the tough decisions can be made, plus will yield great service to your patrons.


                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                In that particular instance, you absolutely got the bums' rush -- your not being seated was their fault, not yours, so to offer miserable service and a severely truncated menu was beyond the pale, and I'd have been sorely tempted to just walk out, even if it meant we were stuck wtih ham sandwiches...it's' the principal of the thing..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I believe that if they accepted the reservation for a certain time, then that means that they are planning to stick around to ensure that you have a proper meal with proper service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                However..if you had walked in the door at 10:45 **without a reservation** and expected dinner, I would have equally expected you to receive the bums' rush.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                (I'll even go so far to say that had you entered the restaurant at 9:30 and they agreed to seat you, even if you didn't actually get to your table until 10:45....they agreed to seat you, so they by definition agree to feed you....with whatever your heart desires from the menu -- they can't help what's sold out, but everything else is fair game)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842


                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That was my feeling, completely. I was present, and checked-in, about 10 mins. prior to my reservation. Obviously, things were going much more slowly, than generally anticipated. However, with our reservations, made 3 - 4 mos. out, and verified, we were impacted, and in a very bad way, so the impression on the management was duly noted, and it made a very bad impression. So bad, that we declined a favorite nephew's plea to try them again. Would things have been better, on the second visit? Well, I will never know, as we did decline, with the details, so he would not think that we were doing so, with no reason. That restaurant still gets great reviews on the New Orleans board, but we have about 20 "must dos," and will probably not live long enough, to try them again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  When similar happened in Hawai`i, it took 20 years, before we gave that restaurant a second try. For some years, they did come through, until fairly recently. In areas, where there are many great options, if a restaurant "disses" me, I just might never be back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As for the thrust of this thread, at least how I read it, maybe I have just been naive, and need to learn the particulars of "hours of operation."


                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Bill Hunt


                                                                                                                                                                                                              But the question is should itbe expected? Absolutely not EXPECTED.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Should walk-ins come to your photo studio 15 minutes before closing "expecting" to be able to have a 1 hour shoot with all the kiddies? No.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I believe that if you know something takes 60-90 minutes for "great service" and you walk in 15 minutes before closing, whether, doors, or kitchen or any definition and "expect" full, perfect service, you are a self-entitled [insert expletive].

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Just my 2-cents

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: RichWhite

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I guess that it depends. I have not "punched a clock," since about 1965, so never have worried about the time. I have always offered my clients 100%, regardless of the time of day, but remember, that was NOT in the restaurant business.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Now, if I were a union person, things might have been different, but I was not, so each client got 100%, regardless.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I guess that everyone should just do some addition, and not expect anyone to offer any service in a restaurant, at what, one hour, before closing?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                If that is the case, then I would strongly suggest that all restaurants alter their "hours of operations" down, and by at least one hour. Perhaps they could add that "anyone entering this restaurant, within one hour of closing, should not expect good service, or good food, as our employees are tired, and need to go home. Come back some other night, and well before one hour, prior to our stated hours, and THEN we will give you a good meal?"That ought to solve the problems.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I guess you were fortunate to never have to worry about making the last subway/bus of the night, picking up a child before daycare closes, or any other host of practical concerns that crop up when one stays at work far later than scheduled.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No, I often had to shoot until 2:00AM, and then drive 150 miles in a blizzard, to turn on my E-6 machine, bring it up to temp, run a test strip, calibrate from that, and then process 50 sheets of Ektachrome, so that they would be ready the next morning, when the art director came by to pick the image(s) for the ad, that was ready to be printed. I would not know about long hours, or working a double, or triple shift - at least not in a restaurant.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    OK Bill. As much as I respect your knowledge and enjoy your posts – you are one of my favorite posters – I’m gonna have to call you out on this one, throw the BS flag. You never gave less than 100%? Come on now. When the boss dropped something on your desk at the end of a 10 hour day and it needed to be finished that night and you had dinner and theater reservations and it was the end of a 55 hour work week, you didn’t, maybe think that a 90 or 95% effort might be good enough just that one time so you could make you appointments? You never turned in an A- project (still keeping the client happy) vs. the usual A+ because you might have been exhausted, maybe had another project that need your attention, etc.? You never cut an even slight corner because you wanted or needed to get out of the office? Over a 45 year period? Sorry but I’m not buying it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Most salaried FOH/BOH employees put in an average 55-hour workweek – often their “hourly wage” ends up being lower than the line cooks they’re supervising in the case of a typical sous chef, for example. At the end of their fifth 11-hour day in a 110-degree kitchen, I’m cutting these folks a lot of slack. A lot has been written in related threads about those friends, relatives or co-workers who are such jerks in restaurants that many of us avoid dining with them. Imagine being a server who doesn’t have the same luxury so you can picture that odds are they HAVE to deal with these people at least nightly. Yeah, it’s OK in my book that they might not have their A+ game 15 minutes before closing. At that time, I’d be fine with the A- or 90%. Sure, there are those instances like the one you described in the restaurant your nephew ended up working in where the management and customer service was appallingly bad with no valid excuse – or no attempt to even come up with a valid excuse – inexcusable. For the most part, if I show up late, which I rarely do, I still get good service especially if I ask if they’re ok with what I might be ordering and/or at least acknowledge the hour and express my appreciation for the good service at the late hour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you for the kind words.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I left "corporate America" quite sometime ago. However, I can recount a day, about Dec. 23, when I was handed a major engineering project, that had to be installed, when one area of my employer's chemical plant had a shut down. Leading into Christmas, I had to rally my entire department (civil), plus the mechanical department, as well. We all pulled double shifts, until about New Year's Eve, and then for my part of the project, I had to spend New Year's at a galvanizing plant, and oversee the loading of the material onto rail cars for shipment to the plant. The next morning, at about 4:00AM, I was back on-site (40 miles up river), to oversee the unloading, and make sure that all markings were there, so that the erection crew could make the installation, during that unit's shut-down. Well, a decision was made to not install that project. The shut-down happened, and four years later, when I left that company, the entire project was still sitting in the Store's yard - uninstalled, though I had worked a team of about 30 double-shifts, and had basically canceled Christmas and New Year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It happens, and I gave all that I could. Was it measurable as 100% vs 98%? I cannot say, but as it was MY project, I gave everything that I had.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For another example, from later in my life, see my reply to LeoLioness. Stuff happens.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now, back to food, and closing times.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Let's say that the stated hours for a seating are to end at 11:00PM. What should a patron expect - only showing up at 10:45PM, or maybe 10:30PM? Should they assume that the staff will be tired, and then show up at 10:00PM, in deference to them?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Somehow, I am confused here. If hours of operation are cited, what should the "padding" be? Should one call ahead, and ask if the staff is tired that night, and then reschedule?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Other than some KP duty, many decades ago, and then a few nights as the host of a steakhouse, I have zero reference to the food/restaurant industry, so I am definitely the wrong person to ask on this subject. I have, however, been a restaurant patron for over fifty years, and have come to expect a certain level of service, within the framework of the stated hours, etc.. If we need to alter our expectations, does it not behoove the owners to work that out? Should it be incumbent on the patron to use their "Little Orphan Annie" decoder ring, to try and figure things out?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Going way up-thread, I cited a reservation, where we were seated ~ 1:45 hrs. (did not check the exact times) after the appointed time, only to be told that the kitchen was about to close, all specials were gone, and that we had to place our order instantly. Was that my fault? Should I have known that my reservation would not be honored in adequate time? Should I have asked, when instructed to wait for our table, whether the staff was tired?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I am just trying to figure out where my responsibility, as a patron, ends, and where the responsibility of the owner takes over. Maybe I have just been wrong all of my life, and have tried to figure things out, based on my various and previous employment (before I opened my own studio, and became self-employed).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for helping me figure things out, and maybe, even at my advanced age, I can begin to do things correctly, but that "decoder ring," is not helping me much in this case.



                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you haven't punched a clock in 45 years then you might not remember how hard it can be to work at the whim of others--or you can lose your job.(As a freelance writer I didn't know what it felt like until I started working in retail.) I don't think anyone here is suggesting that kitchen/wait staff are trying to get out early, they'd just like to be able to have a life--with appointments, kids, sleep, household chores--that is not upended at will by those who decide to show up at a restaurant at the end of the evening. And I certainly don't want to be the person sitting there eating a meal while others wait for me to be done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh, though it was some decades ago, I know very well how it feels to work at the whims of others. That is called employment. See above for some examples.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When I did "punch a clock," I worked for my supervisors. When I went independent, I worked for my clients. Those are the same people, who would be referred to as "patrons," in this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As a help to me, can you tell me, how much time is now appropriate, prior to published hours, to expect service? Is it 15 mins. Maybe it should be 1 hour? Maybe 2 hours? Just give me a clue, and help me "break the code." I always thought that hours of operation were just that, but so many are telling me how wrong I have been for all these years. I just need a Rosetta Stone to help me out, and obviously, you have one, and I hope that you can share it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks in advance,


                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think all of us know what is reasonable. Working for oneself, where all the profits are kept by the worker, is different from working for someone else at a paid, often hourly, wage. Then that extra half hour does not translate into getting the job done for a client and getting paid what the contract agreed to, but rather just having to put in extra time for little compensation when you would rather have the time than the money. Someone with as much worldly experience as you have documented here should certainly know what is appropriate, IMHO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            OK, so if there are hired workers, what is the acceptable time, that one must factor in, from the published "hours of operation?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Should it be 15 mins., or 30 mins. or maybe 4 hours?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Obviously, there is some figure, and I missed the memo.



                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I guess when one is such a world traveler as you, who have dined in the finest restaurants around the world oh so many times, there is really no reason for a lowly soul like me to explain these subtleties to you. I'm sure you can tell me what is best for those of us given the opportunity to serve you. Thanks for letting us make your dining experiences the best that they can be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So now you're just being purposely obtuse to further your point?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Okay, I'll play. Since you don't seem to understand/care that people may have lives to tend to outside of serving you, use this rule of thumb: if you cannot finish your meal by the time the restaurant closes (as in, its published closing hours), then a.) don't eat there at that time or b.) don't expect people to be thrilled to be fetching you another glass of water or the dessert menu 30 minutes after closing time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh I understand having "lives," beyond employment, though my wife and I have never seemed to find what that should be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I ask you the same question, as above: what is the appropriate time, before the published "hours of operation," that one should anticipate that all workers have already "check out?" Should one anticipate 15 mins., 30 mins. one hour, or more? When do the employees "check out?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Is this not something that they need to talk to the owners about? Should they get their friends to protest, on their behalf, so that the owner alters the hours of operation, and then their hours of service?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As a patron, who relies on the published "hours of operation," I need to find the "Rosetta stone," so that I can know these things. Maybe "Occupy Wall Street," can spread to "Occupy All Restaurants?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I just go by what is published, but obviously there are "secret codes,"that I am not privy to?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thank you,


                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Bill, ASK. If you're walking in, sans reservation, within an hour of closing, ASK THEM.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Because the answer might be different today than it was yesterday, and will be tomorrow, even in the same establishment -- and the place next door or across the street will give you a different answer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Bill, i will admit to being confused by your posts. you seem to think that restaurants should state their closing hour explicitly and follow up w no exceptions, but then you are put out when this new orleans restaurant where your younger relative worked stuck to those hours and did not make an exception for you!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              taking your example, for the record i agree w you-- if the restaurant had what i would consider a proper understanding of hospitality, the folks working there: management, owners, floor staff, boh-- would have understood that through various unforeseen snafus and delays, and beyond the control of the customer (you), the party was *not* seated in a timely manner, yet the customer (you) continued to gamely hang in there beyond any reasonable limit-- of course the restaurant should do it's duty toward the party--you should be seated and served, past closing time, just as if it were the appointed hour of your reservation. this would seem to fall under the management discretion to stay open for service, even past posted closing times, that i called for earlier in the thread. yet the folks who would like explicit closing times to be stated would say that refusing you service and basically throwing you out is "fair." to whom? who knows? if you had known the restaurant would not treat you hospitably, you'd have left minutes after they didn't seat you initially, after all--and your party, and a competing restaurant, would have made out better in the situation. the only way for the restaurant to recoup your patronage was to actually be hospitable and serve you after close-- and if they were so busy they couldn't even seat your party for well over an hour, up until the moment of closing, it's my position that, no matter how tired the staff was, that the one last ticket/table should not have made any difference to them, and it would have made a great deal of difference to your party. ****i will state the caveat that at very busy bar-type places a posted "last call" on food/posted kitchen closing time can make all the sense in the world-- the madness just has to end some time :) but i don't think this is the type of place you were visiting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              in my experience, restaurant staff are not afraid of work, and indeed there is even a sort of masochistic delight in working long hours at a frantic pace under hot and physically demanding conditions-- particularly with the boh/line cooks. they take pride in serving a record amount of covers in an evening, even if the work is harder and longer and they don't personally gain financially from it. the fact that they are tired and work 60 hours+/week is not the issue, these folks will find their second and third wind and serve customers as long as hospitality is called for. if the theater crowd is hustling through the doors near posted closing time, it makes all the sense in the world for the restaurant to welcome them and make them happy with extended hospitality, and for the owner to suck up the time and a half to the dozen employees serving 20 tables. make hay while the sun shines! however, it does not make sense for the same scenario, with a dozen folks on overtime serving *one* table past close. if there were some extenuating circumstances like your own example i would hope the restaurant could make an exception, but in general it does not make good business sense, and if restaurants as a whole did this regularly they would close their doors left and right-- the same as they would if they could not get income from alcohol/liquor sales only (not food), for the last hours before closing. . . far fewer restaurants would be able to afford liquor licenses if they had to carry the overhead of keeping the kitchen open with full menu until the wee hours of the morning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i too think the comparisons people are making between some jobs/professions are inappropriate, bordering on offensive. it goes without saying that a guy who stands to make a commission on a $30k+ car will stay an extra 15 mins :) a line cook doesn't get those rewards, or the bennies that come w teaching positions, jobs in offices which operate during normal business/daylight hours, or other white-collar jobs. working evening hours for little compensation, no matter how much one loves the rush or physicality of the work, eventually does wear a person down. burnout happens-- one day a line cook realizes s/he is old and tired-- too old and tired to do this another day for $12/hr and no health insurance. while a team of people will pull together on a bustling midsummer weekend to serve hordes of happy folks, i do not think it is fair to pointlessly extend their work hours on nights where the traffic does not exist because of competing events, weather, day of week/holiday etc. that change from day to day. the flip side of management keeping a whole team of people an hour late on a saturday evening to serve latecomers, is that they may reserve the right, with an eye both on the overtime clock/economic interest of the restaurant, and with compassion toward the employees, to simply let them go home early on the following wednesday when it's absolutely pouring rain and there are no customers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have been following this topic and wondering if I should post, but you have covered everything very well, soup!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Personally, I treat the posted hours on a restaurant the same as any store. If I can get in and get my business done before (or within 5 minutes of) closing, I'll go in. I wouldn't go into the grocery store 15 minutes before the posted closing time and expect to shop for an hour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Sooeygun

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  By all accounts......Dilly-dallying in a store @ closing time should be perfectly acceptable as a right of the customer entering the building according to Mr Hunt....the butcher, produce manager, deli manager and fishmonger should all be on guard and ready to serve, in the hopes and chances he and others who believe like him, they might come in and expect the whole store to be available to him.....special requests in those departments 15 minutes before closing time, just like it is available 15 minutes after opening..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't think so. It's unreasonable to expect that service in a grocery store, so why would it be expected in a restaurant. Last time I looked, even 24 hour stores do not offer complete services all the time. You pick up a few items and get out.....you do not do your shopping for the week. Even the large supermarkets by me do not allow for personalized service in those departments at all hours they are open.....in fact, most stores stay open till 11:00PM, but the butcher and his staff are gone by 7PM, the deli and fishmonger close at 8PM and the produce staff are no where to be seen at the end of the day.....but here's the difference you say....the hours are posted.....Well then here is this I say.....after participating in this thread, you know that whether posted or not, restaurant kitchens breakdown and close before the restaurant actually closes 30-60 minutes before the posted closing time of the restaurant. You enter at your own peril

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'll reiterate......closing time is when you are expected to be out...not beat the clock to get in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "closing time is when you are expected to be out...not beat the clock to get in."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's never occurred to me that people might think of it as last entrance, rather than doors will be closed, kind of inherent in the word "closing", not "last call." Maybe bars have the right idea. At the same time, I do think, if someone went to a diner 15 minutes before closing and asked for a slice of pie and coffee and is out in less than 15 minutes that that person should get the same service as someone who came in an hour earlier and did the same. The workers can curse under their breath all they want and that's fine, we all put on a game face at times, but it should be transparent to the customer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I am an early person. I get up by 4am (by habit, not necessity). I know the opeing time of every store, office, restaurant, etc. I get really ticked off when a place opens, but really isn't ready for business.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I was in the retail business, the food business, manufacturing and am a lawyer. I have zero tolerance for not being ready to work during stated hours. The coffee should have been brewed and ready to serve at the time doors are opened to patrons.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Food should be available to be served until the stated closing hours. I don't pay less because it's near closing time and I don't expect and won't accept a lesser level of service based on the hour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My daughter is a retail manager. Her store is located in a major mall and is part of a major international chain. The store opens at 10am. Staff is in from 7am to get ready. The store closes at 9:30PM, staff is scheduled until midnoght to get the store ready for the next day.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      When I was in the food business, staff came in hours before opening and worked hours after closing to make sure food was ready for selloing hours.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have no sympathy for clock watcher who slacks off near the end of a shift. If you are being paid you work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      my EX-wife was the exact opposite, she knew the closing time of every establishment and showed up just before closing to shop. The bakery and deli department employees hated her because after they had cleaned slicers, she would show up and want things sliced to order. But as the store's management consistently told her, if it's during oprating hours you are entitled to full service in all departments. The employees can clean after closing, they are still being paid for their time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      One of my pet peeves is to arrive at an establishment before the psted closing time and find the door locked. I'll never return. Posted hours should be honored.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm the same way--I'm a morning person, too and want things open when they're supposed to be open. I had a job interview a couple of months ago where the place was supposed to be open a a certain time. Opener/interviewer was late by 20 minutes and people were kept waiting. I would not take the job (lucky I have the option). A place should be open when it's supposed to be open and I have no problems w/ it closing when it's supposed to be closed. Do your job when you're on the clock and customers need to pay attention when it's past the closing time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yeahs ago, when I worked at McDonald's (decades, really), we started closing when we could but we were never allowed to take apart essentials until it closed. Closing, for 1-2 hours after closing time, was the expected shift.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Most people who work in retail are paid by the hour, and not very much. They are not asked to come in early and stay late. Most start shortly before the doors open and leave shortly after they close--the last task being counting the till and making sure the drawers come out even. Aside from that, things have to be fitted into the time when the store is open. I worked for a woman who ran a shop in the mall where hours were 10 to 10. She worked hard and made less than $50,000 a year working 7 days a week once salaries, rent etc were taken out. Asking her to take on more staff hours so people can be standing there waiting for customers to come in would have put her out of business. And by the way, I'm sure your ex always got served, but that doesn't mean anybody was glad to see her. At the places I shop and eat, I want the people that help me to be happy I came.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            When I was paid by the hour, I looked forward to extra hours worked so I could make more. I wasn't asked to work for free--I got paid for the time. the longer closing took, the more I made. It was important when I was heading for college.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Most places that pay by the hour are not interested/able to pay for extra hours any more. Lots of people are having their hours cut while being expected to still get everything done. That is the new reality, whether we like it or not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That's too bad. If you're being paid minimum wage hourly, and you have to work longer hours, you should be paid for it. It might be different where you are but where I am, people are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Time is sometimes more imporant than money. Working late for some people means a pricey cab ride home because they miss the last train, or paying late fees at daycare because they are late picking up their child.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  When I worked in the food industry, the closing time was part of your hours--we were put on the schedule until 1am, or expected time it would take to close the restaurant (at 11:30) and then clean up. It wasn't working unexpectedly late. And, the closing time was an estimate so you had to plan accordingly. I'm not saying it was/is always easy, just that it's part of business. I can't think of any job that never runs late.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A server, depending on state could easily be making $3 an hour before tips. Let's say you're one of those people who didn't like the vibe she put out during that hour when you were the only one in the place and you decided to give her only a 10% tip (I've seen a lot of posters who seem to have no problem giving nothing) on your $30 meal. That extra hour just got her $6 - gross -it happens. By the way, the IRS doesn't believe anyone tips less than 15% so she'll be taxed on more than she actually made. The guy in the kitchen is probably on salery as they more likely than not cut the hourly line cook. He makes nothing more by making sure you get to eat alone in the dining room. In fact, his hourly rate just went down.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This thread really should be about what the posted hours in a restaurant really mean. I don't want to speak for Mr. Hunt but I think that's what he's been getting at all along as in "just tell me the rules and I'll play by them". That's the issue - with restaurant hours there seems to be no hard and fast rules but I think soupkitchen a few posts up not only captured the true spirit of the BOH people but the reality of the restaurant biz generally. He shows that there are always exceptions and there are a lot of gray areas. I think any customer should be able to recognize in a nano second upon walking into any restaurant near the end of posted hours what the deal is. There's a line and they're seating 4 tops left and right - then go for it. There's a few tables that appear to be finishing up then one should use good judgement and recognize that even if the place will honor their posted hours to the minute, they will be losing money on you (if they have to keep staff), most of the employees will be unhappy, and you will rightfully be thought of as a jerk.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  A restaurant IS different from almost any other type of retail establishment in regards to closing hours. We all should recognize the difference and act accordingly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That's the case in every job, really, as overtime and as the salary worker goes. Overtime means you make less per hour. As the server goes, it's the nature of the job and if people were told they needed to be out, at the right time, they shouldn't have to stay. I think that's a management issue. Customers should be told when they come in that it's too late to serve them unless they're doing take out. If they're not, it's management's fault.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "This thread really should be about what the posted hours in a restaurant really mean. "

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think it's what it's become and most of us agree that closing time is when the restaurants lock their doors, everyone out. But, there are those who believe that the closing time means the time the workers are out the door, closing being started before, and those who believe it's the last chance to pop into the restaurants--I think it's those two camps who have the biggest conflict.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Closing is part of a workers' hours, or at least in every restaurant I've worked in and how it's done where I've seen (I have quite a lot of family who own small restaurants). Workers are put on a shift where they're there for an hour or two after close. They don't expect to be walking out the door the minute it's closed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Actually, I agree that it should be about a finite definition on several terms:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Last Seating
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hours of Operation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Kitchen Closing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That might be very helpful.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That is exactly what I have been asking, since about my first, or second post, in this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It seems that there is some "secret" amount of time, that all patrons should be aware of, but I missed that memo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If a restaurant seats until 10:00PM, then what would that allowable time frame be? Should no patron accept a 10:00PM seating, as the staff will be tired, and will need to leave, before those patrons have been fed? If the kitchen closes at 10:30PM, that is clear to me - do not allow a seating, after that time, as the kitchen would be closed. Those make perfect sense to me. However, there seems to be some additional factoring, that must be done, to expect good service, but so far, no one has been able to furnish that. As one, who must dine out, about 5 nights per week, I feel that I need to know. As I often have to book my restaurant tables, months in advance, I cannot be expected to inquire whether the staff is tired that night. I should not be responsible for a server, who has a "life of their own," beyond the restaurant. That is not my concern. I wish them well, but it is not my fault, just because I wish to dine with their employer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As the patron, indirectly, I pay their salary. It is my dining pleasure, that they should be immediately concerned with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If the owner is working them overtime, without compensation, that is a problem, but it should not be mine. If they did not sleep well, the night before, that is a problem, but should not be mine. If their child did poorly in school that day, I am very sorry, but again, it should not be my problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's rather like a commercial airline. If I have booked a flight from PHX to SFO on UAL, and the stated departure time is 3:38PM, with arrival at 5:30PM, then it is not my problem, if the flight attendants had a party, and are not feeling like flying. That is UAL's problem. As one who flies 1K per year on UAL, I often have very tight connections, and make a few allowances for weather in a particular airport, etc. With restaurants, I am not used to there being any "weather holds," or "weather delays."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      At a human level, I hope that all servers are having a good night, but if they are not, I cannot understand how it is suddenly my problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Can you tell me, what those particular differences should be? What is the factor, with regards to the "last seating," the "closing time," or the kitchen's "closing time." Are they the same, or is each a different allowance? This is the question, that I keep asking, with not one useful reply - only statements on how I do not understand restaurant servers, the business, or how tired workers can be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      While I have to admit to not owning a restaurant, and not being a server, I can state that I have shot for 36 hours straight, and my wife has pulled triple shifts in her hospital, when she was a nurse, before she began running hospitals, so know about shifts of many, many hours, and being tired. Still, everyone says that because I have not been a server, or owned a restaurant, I cannot possibly know, as though hard work is ONLY applicable in the restaurant business. Trust me, it is not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the info, to help me determine how much before the stated closing time, or kitchen closing time, or last seating, I must book.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It seems that there is some "secret" amount of time, that all patrons should be aware of, but I missed that memo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sorry Mr Hunt, but after participating in this thread, you did not miss the memo,......you just continually choose to ignore it. Whether it is clear to you or not, the closing time is when the restaurant winds down. As I, and others, have indicated, the closing time is when the restaurants wants patrons to be out. Sometimes, they will make exceptions for you to stay, then the rules should change.......all you simply need to do is ask if they will serve you. If you do not ask the question, then you are expected to be out at closing time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If you expect great service, then you need to be seated an hour before posted closing time......it's really quite easy to understand. Your rigid stance and arguments are really becoming silly....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'll put it another way for you.....the general rule in all restaurants is this.....the kitchen closes, or the last seating is one hour before posted closing time, unless otherwise noted somewhere......being it on the menu, on the wall near the host stand, the entrance or on their website.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Most people who work in the USA are paid by the hour, not just retail. If you are being paid you should work. I spent 27 years in retail, from janitor to owner and all positions in between. Your friend who could not hire enough staff so that things could be done in non-opening hours is typical of undercapitalized independent businesses. She does not have the business plan used by the chains
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    . Why do we have 24 hour supermarkets? Because there was a night stocking crew on anyway, so bring a 2 cashiers and take some money in, The lights and heat are on anyway.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I want people that serve me to be happy I came in, too. If I didn't come in and spend they might be out of work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      are you saying restaurants should all be 24 hours?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      how about offices?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm saying that a good operator plans staff for the hours needed to operate effectively. If more revenue can be brought in by allowing patrons in during these extended hours it can be done. Surely you've seen 'late night menus' or 'bar menus' vailable only during specified hours.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          yes i have, and i am generally in favor of them, as opposed to the "full menu available up to the moment of close" camp here. i would point out that these "late night" menus are *simplified,* and designed to be very streamlined, so that fewer staff can execute the food, and pick up closing duties between tickets, but they are not the "full experience" a restaurant can offer. these menus make sense for some establishments but not others, and at dinner-only places, there is often a limited menu available for the brief period before close, by default, as has been stated throughout the thread. it is whether or not a customer who comes into a restaurant at fifteen or five minutes to close feels that they can get bunched up about this, that is at issue for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          to be clear, i am not generally in favor of taking too many cues from corporate/fast food chains, in the restaurant business. people may not be happy w what they trade for "convenience" in many cases. . . but as more and more people demand the "d'ya want fries with that" experience, this will become more prevalent, and the quality of restaurant meals will decline. perhaps it isn't something the "customer is always right" folks are considering, but if they knew more about the business, they might.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The customer isn't always right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            One of the great joys of being an owner was to invite customers to shop/dine elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In 1980, a woman complained to my father that the level of service she was receiving in his store wasn't satisfactory. This was a blue collar department stoire with shopping carriages.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My father told her that she should drive the 5 minutes to the mall and shop in Bloomingdale's where her expectations might be met. The woman replied: "Bloomingdale's prices are too high for me." My father''s answer>"You get what you pay for, don't expect carriage trade service at basement prices!"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I always gave my managers authority to refuse to serve unreasonable customers and even to ban their return. I stood behind my employees' decisions. The employees were entitled to dignity, not to be mistreated by custimners or employer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            BTW, my early experience with late night menu was not at chains, but in the private dining room of our country club. It was introduced back in the 1960s in order to attract the after movie crowd on Friday and Saturday nights. This brought more bar business and satisfied the members need to have food with drinks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I could not agree more. If the staff needs to be home, in bed by 9:00PM, then it is incumbent on the owner to find staff, should the hours of operation extend beyond that time, or whatever time is required, for the staff to close down, clean up, grab a train, tuck the kids into bed, and get to sleep.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A good manager/owner should make this clear to all employees.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well let's beat her up for making a go of a business without being part of a chain....and it was the chain of malls that chased her out because they wanted retail chains that would be in all their malls not just a local business in one mall. This is not about whether people do their jobs but rather whether their work hours should be modified for the whim of a potential customer who thinks their needs top everyone else's and people should be grateful they came in, no matter the hour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I work in the restaurant industry and have done just about every job in the front and back of the house. A proper restaurant should seat guests up until closing time and give them the same great service that they give every other customer. This is a slightly idealistic view but you shouldn't fear reprisal from a server or cook who would rather go home than serve one more table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            As a patron I wouldn't sit down 15 minutes before closing if the rest of the place was empty, but if there are even a few tables (meaning the staff will be there for a while anyway) then I have no qualms. When I was waiting tables I would always volunteer to stay and take the last table, money is money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            @escondido123: There are no "hours" in the restaurant business. Your job ends when everything is done, including cooking and serving the last order for those "pesky" customers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              no one is beating anyone up for not being part of a chain, I pointed oiut that she was undercapitalized to compete effectively in the mall environment.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I grew up in the retail business. My fater opened a branch store in the first shopping center in Connecticut back in 1955. He built a sucessful 15 store regional chain. He got out when Sunday retailing became mandatory, he would not require seven day work of his employees or managers.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I owned 3 stand alone retail styores. They were not in malls because I would not have opening hours dictated by the mall operators. We were opened Sundays, but closed on the major holidays: New Year, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. My employees were entitled to family holidays.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              When I owned and operated a bakery (hence the name bagelman) and a restaurant, I knew that we had to be open both weekend days, BUT we closed Mondays.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              No one worked open to close (except an owner by choice) unless there was a weather or illness emergency. I did not experience large turnover in help, because pay and working conditions were good. I scheduled openers and closers so that patrons were not serve by or resented by worn out employees at the end of their shift.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If you ask why I left retail and ythe hospitality business, I had a chance to go back to school in my 50s and get a law degree put off by the Viet Nam War. I was not burnt out or chased away by the chains, I cashed out, and former employees now own and sucessfully operate 3 of my former establishments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sorry for the confusion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Let me attempt to clarify things a bit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Others have indicated that restaurant employees have a life, beyond their employment. They have also stated that employees get tired, and cannot b expected to work their shifts, due to fatigue, and I would assume that some have sick children too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Unfortunately, I keep asking what the allowable time, prior to the published "hours of operation," a patron should expect to have service, and so far, no one has addressed that. Instead, they want to attack me, for not considering the employees.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What is the acceptable time frame? Is it 15 mins., 30 mins, one hour, four hours? Can you just answer me that, without telling me how tired the employees are, or how they are being exploited by the employer?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  If the published hours of operation are not adequate, is it not incumbent on the employees to address these issues with the owner, their employer?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As a patron, I would really like to know when I can be seated, and expect good service. Obviously, it is not going to be found in the "hours of operation," but no one has been able to tell me what the factor is. Can you do so?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thank you,


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    as above, you're asking for something that simply doesn't exist. The restaurant business simply cannot be tied up into a neat and tidy black and white box for your convenience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you have a reservation, it's an implied contract, and you have every expectation that, if you show up at the specified time for your reservation, that you will be seated and offered the same service offered to every other patron served that evening. That one IS black and white.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If, however, you are walking into a restaurant within an hour or so of closing ***without a reservation***, look around -- are the tables full? Are people finishing dessert, or are there still main dishes on the table? (no need for a full inspection, a quick glance will do)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now when the host/hostess/maitre d' appears, ***ASK HIM OR HER IF YOU CAN STILL BE SEATED, AND IF THE KITCHEN IS STILL OPEN** With absolutely all respect intended, you don't seem like the shy or retiring type -- so there should be no anxiety involved in just asking them -- it doesn't cost you anything, and just might save you a problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The very fact that you asked indicates that you are cognizant that it's getting late...thus might actually earn you service that those who gruffly demand a table might not get.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Then listen to what they tell you -- both the verbal and the nonverbal -- if there's a flash in the eyes and a long pause before they agree to serve you, that that's a pretty sure hint that you're pushing the edge...order something reasonably simple and head out. If they smile broadly, grab menus, and head for the dining room -- you're good to go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I think that nobody has really touched on cost of business v table check when it comes to last minute diners. Busboys, chef and line cook, dishwasher, server to name a few that will have to stay behind to close assuming an average of $8-10 an hour might end of costing the restaurant more than the price of a 2 top walking in 15 minutes before close, plus electricity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have worked in places that post last seating hours but you'd still get customers 5 or so minutes after that. Do you turn them away or accomodate them? You can't win! Some would even call to say they are on their way and still not be there on time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Gotta love Aldi - I was there last night 7 minutes before closing and was out by 8pm their posted hours. A few people were outside wanting to shop but the sliding door was automatically closed at 8 on the dot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What you make that night is negligible. So you can 1) explain that you are closing and can't serve. A reasonable customer will understand; an unreasonable one won't but that saves you from dealing wig that person, ever; 2) serve the person well and he can become a regular or 3) serve the person but not well in which case he'll never return and the whole thing a big waste of everyone's time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: smartie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sorry for typos above. I'm posting from a small phone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. It seems like everything there is to be said on this subject has already been said, and now the conversation is just going in circles, and growing increasingly unfriendly. We're going to lock it now.