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No call-in orders after x time?

There are a few local delis in my area which do not accept call-in orders after a certain time. It's usually 1 or 2 hours before closing time. Does anyone know a good reason why they would have this rule? I assume it's so that there are no leftovers orders which aren't picked up but for a place that prides itself on a la minute service wouldn't this be true at any time of the day?

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  1. Their house; their rules.

    1. Because people who say they are coming over in "5 minutes" to pick up sometimes forget and then the deli is stuck waiting for that person to come. However, while I can see a 1 hour rule (for the reason I just mentioned), 2 hours seems a bit extreme.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Philly Ray

        They're in the best position to know their business/customers and they're in the business of making money, so if they are doing it, odds are there's a good reason for it.

        1. re: ferret

          Yes, I assume there is was just interested to see if anyone had any ideas. They are kind of snarky in that endearing way but not sure I have the courage to ask them.

      2. Probably for the same reason laundromats have a "last wash" time. If a place is scheduled to close at, say, 10pm, then taking the last order no later than 9pm assures that the workers can close up on time.
        It's also possible that they have experienced what Philly Ray posted, that people forget or run late to pick up last minute orders, and this is a way of minimizing that.
        It wouldn't bother me very much as long as I knew that this was the case.

        1. As others have stated, they simply want to be able to close on time.

          There are utensils, slicers, & other implements to clean & put away. Prepared food items to store. Counters & the shop in general to clean & tidy up. This takes time. And having to take time out from that to answer the phone, take down an order, prepare it, & package it, takes time away from what has to be done before everyone can leave for home.

          Maybe you wouldn't mind working overtime due to someone who couldn't call in their order until the last minute, but I certainly understand a business that gives a hoot about their employees being able to leave on time.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Bacardi1

            I understand your point but isn't this still true if you show up at 455pm to place an order?

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              Not sure what the point of your question is fldhkybnva? If the place closes at 5pm and you place your order at 455 pm, isn't it obvious what Bacardi says takes place is happening an hour or so before closing time? Not sure how it matters if it's 4:55, 5:55 or 11:55, if it's 5 minutes before closing time, it's 5 minutes before closing time.

              Now if you mean you place your order at 4:55 pm and they close at 10pm, then no, they're not doing all the work Bacardi says at the time you place your 4:55 pm order.

              1. re: Rick

                I mean if you walk into the place at 455pm and place an order does that not interrupt the stuff that they are trying to finish to exit the building when the place closes at 5pm?

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  Yes it does and it is a PITA (been there). But, at least with walk-ins you have some sense of what your crowd is and can time your closing accordingly. Also, very late walk-ins who see everything is put away might be less demanding with their order. Maybe get a bagel and CC but no sliced veg. Or grab something that is already prepared. Etc. People on the phone ordering from a menu won't have any such restraint.

                  Basically, I think they are trying to wind down for the day and will control what they can.

            2. re: Bacardi1

              I think Bicardi sums it up best. You'll get those that think restaurants should bend to every customers wishes, but that doesn't always work so well from a business stand point. Say closing time is 10 pm, you call in a small order at 9:50, promise to be there before 10pm. On your way over you get a flat tire, or the baby pukes and needs a new outfit etc etc, now the restaurant either waits until you make it in or has to throw away the food. Your $10 order may very well end up costing the restaurant more than $10 if you run late. Not to mention no one likes staying late at work. I can guarntee you the vast majority of employees would be happy to know they will be going home 10 pm EVERY night on the dot. Happy employees are just as important as happy customers.

            3. It may also be that the volume of orders placed in that time slot is low, so it doesn't pay to have an employee assigned to answer the phone -- especially if they send some employees home after the dinner rush and the others start on clean-up even before closing time.

              1. I drove around, drunk, last night, trying to find a place to get a six-pack. I looked up what places near me were open late on Mondays (or early on Tuesdays, as was the case). I stopped at 5 different bars before I found one that was open. I agree, it's infuriating.

                5 Replies
                1. re: MonMauler

                  Awesome you were drunk driving, really awesome.

                    1. re: ItalianNana

                      That's correct. I was in the passenger's seat. But it was my car and whatnot. Whether or not I was behind the wheel was not the point of my response and is certainly tangential, at most, to the OP.

                      1. re: MonMauler

                        If you had called in an order,would you have been able to remember who you called and how to get there?

                        The best intentioned munchies sometimes lack the facilities to get to the food source.

                  1. Perhaps I should clarify...I'm not upset that they have this rule, I was just wondering how it's different than someone that walks into the restaurant right near closing time such that perhaps there should be a similar rule of last in-house order 15-20 minutes before closing if the goal is to clean up and leave at a reasonable time.

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      It's not different, in fact I can think of a few sit-down places where instead of listing a restaurant closing time, they state "Kitchen Closes at X o'clock", or "last seating at X o'clock".

                      It really depends on how the management wants to present it. Alternatively, some places may close their doors to the public at a certain time, but the staff stays on to do clean up and prep. I once worked at a shop that closed at 10:30, but I was scheduled until 11:00 so I'd have time to count my drawer and do a little straightening up before leaving for the day.

                      1. re: iluvcookies

                        Yea, makes sense. I've never attempted to place an in-house order near closing time so not sure how they handle this.

                      2. re: fldhkybnva

                        Well, way back in the day, I used to work at a fast food establishment. I closed the shop. Traditionally slow nights I would start packing stuff up about a half hour before the stated closing time. I'd still serve the full menu for anyone that came or called in, but if other places are making fresh stuff ... Chinese food or pizza, for example, I could see them not being willing to honor an order just before closing.

                        Because of this I usually try to order or get to places at least an hour before their stated closing time.

                        1. re: MonMauler

                          Yea, that's been my general practice as well, but this was the first place I've noticed that helps you engage in that practice with a handy dandy reminder on the menu and website. Even with delivery, I don't usually place an order within at least 30 minutes usually 1 hour of closing, but not at their request, so just wanted to inquire about this practice which up until now I have been unfamiliar with but don't see anything wrong with it.

                          As a somewhat humorous backstory to this question - I was in serious need of a Reuben and after a bit of back and forth in my head, decided to ditch my original lunch plans and rush out to the local Jewish deli. In my haste, I somehow managed to grab the menu (planning to give it the once over on the way there in case I wanted something different), phone, wallet, jacket and to lock the doorknob...without grabbing my keys which sit right next to the door. After calling my landlord who estimated that they would be there within 30 minutes, I figured it'd be a good idea to place a call-in order and run over to pick it up after they arrived only to be informed of the rule which I then noticed on the front of the menu. The landlord did arrive within the estimated 30 minutes and I would have had time to run over and order a sandwich in-house but I took a hint from the call-in order rule and figured I wouldn't attempt a last minute order although perhaps I should have investigated there "last minute" in-house order practices. Luckily, my craving for corned beef was fulfilled the next day at both breakfast with a serious heaping of corned beef hash and at lunch with the Reuben I had been after.

                        2. re: fldhkybnva

                          I think if you walk up and order, it's different than when you call and order in. You could call and order in, and then not show up, or show up way later than you said you would (like someone above mentioned), whereas if you're already there, well, you're already there and they won't have to wait around for you to show up to pick up your order.

                          1. re: juliejulez

                            Again, if there's a sale to be made, most people will make it, if they're consciously avoiding it then, based on their past experience, it's clearly not a substantial stream of revenue.

                          2. re: fldhkybnva

                            It's not different at all. Around here, even though restaurants (except for the chain spots) may list a closing time of 9 or 10 p.m., the very last seatings they'll accept are 30 minutes prior to that. Come in after that, & you'll politefully & regretfully be turned down for a meal.

                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              such a rule is very common in many restaurants.
                              even when you are sitting at a table, it is not an uncommon practice for a server to come by some time before the restaurant officially closes to ask if you want to place an order for any more food.

                              1. re: westsidegal

                                Yea I guess I have encountered that a few times in a sit down restaurant.

                            2. Maybe the deli sends staff home early when they are slow and end up with only enough staff to deal with in person customers close to closing time?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: akq

                                Good thought. Never been in near closing to compare but seems reasonable.

                                1. re: akq

                                  that, AND, the clean up crew may be made up of folks that don't have a food handlers card.
                                  even if you had a hundred of them, they would not be "legal" to prepare your food.

                                2. not a direct answer to your question, but:

                                  every restaurant has a closing procedure.
                                  how long it takes to complete the closing procedure depends on a number of factors and is specific to each particular restaurant.
                                  typically, the restaurant manager or owner is much more aware of what it takes to correctly close down( both in terms of labor, time, etc) than people speculating about this on chowhound.
                                  it's simply one of the myriad business decisions that every restaurant owner/manager needs to make for his/her specific restaurant.

                                  1. Okay, I'm a little late tot party...and pretty much every scenario has been discussed in general terms and speculation....

                                    But to get a sandwich after the last call policy, presuming they answer the phone of course, or have not yet finished cleaning the the kitchen equipment.... is to get to know the staff on the closing team, or the manager in charge. When I owned my Bar/Restaurant...the kitchen closed hours before the bar did...but if a customer came in and wanted to have something to eat, I never turned them away...instead I told they I could fix them something from a limited menu...which usually meant something grilled or cold. I wouldn't turn on the deep fry, but it was very easy to turn on the grill.....While many have to go home...some have to stay under certain circumstances at restaurant...but maybe not at deli. Get to know the man and you may well be rewarded..