How Long Is Too Long To Linger After Finishing Your Meal?

If you’ve dined out enough in your life, you’ve likely been on both sides of the waiting game… You’re the one standing at the front of the restaurant, scanning the room for diners who seem to be wrapping things up. Or you’re the ones sitting at the table, finishing up dessert or sipping your third cup of coffee, even though people are waiting for a table.

Over at 29-95.com, they received a complaint from diners at a Houston restaurant who were told to “vacate the table” by the eatery’s owner because he felt that — what he claims was two hours and forty minutes but which the diners say was only 70 minutes — they had gotten their fill and their lingering was prohibiting him from serving other customers.

So we want to know your feelings on this bit of eating etiquette. How long should restaurants let you linger at your table after you’ve finished the meal you’re paying for? Is it okay for restaurants to ask you to leave if they feel you’re causing them to delay other diners?

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    The post is wrong. According to the account on the 29-95 website, the diners came in at 6:30 a nd were told to leave around 7:50. They were only there for an hour and 20 minutes.

    Two hours and 40 minutes is too long, but one hour and 20 minutes is really not unreasonable considering how busy the restaurant was, according to the account on the website.

    • Chris Morran says:

      the restaurant owner says 2:40, the diners say 1:20…

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Yeah, I know it said that, and normally I would side with the restaurant owner, but it seems really counter productive to make up facts to complain. I just don’t know that I believe the diners lied about their experience to such a degree as to shave off such a huge amount of time.

        • Randell says:

          You mean a consumer would never exaggerate their claim as to how a big old nasty business embarrassed them? I 100% believe they were probably there for over 2 hours. I bet they arrived shortly after opening (5:30 PM). and probably left at 7:50 PM. Bringing in two bottles of wine for two women seems a but excessive to me to start with. That is sucking down the wine to the point of getting drunk in an 1:20. The restaurant has nothing to gain by pissing off two ladies

          • Charmander says:

            I’m sure there are ways to verify this: for example, when the orders were placed on the computer , and when the credit card was run through…..

        • Big Mama Pain says:

          You would be surprised at a diner’s perception of time when they sit down in a restaurant. “I’ve been waiting for twenty minutes” is usually more like…five minutes; and then when people are finally enjoying their meals and having a good time, they lose track. People exaggerate all the time to make their complaints sound more legit, not just in restaurants. Although, I’ve also never worked in a restaurant where any insinuation (asking them to leave, cutting out the lights/music, putting up chairs) that a customer was camping out was acceptable. Maybe these people were just douchebags?

          • rmorin says:

            Agreed. When I worked at a restaurant years ago their were time stamps on when things were ordered on the ticket, so unless the server took forever to enter it, claims of “I’ve been waiting over forty-five minutes!” could easy be refuted.

          • Doubts42 says:

            +1

    • scoccaro says:

      I agree, an hour and 20 minutes is not too long. I find that some things you need more time to eat anyway.

    • Harmodios says:

      No tip for you! And leave.

    • Charmander says:

      There are a couple of discrepancies in the article. First, as you’ve noted, the diners say 1 hour and 20 minutes, which to me is reasonable. However, the owner says 2 hours and 40 minutes, on a night when they were slammed.

      Then the diners say they didn’t even get their check, and they were asked to vacate. The owner says they got their check and had already paid before they were asked to leave.

      So who to believe here?

  2. AstroPig7 says:

    It depends on how large your group is and how busy the restaurant is. If you are going to linger, at least have the good sense to leave a nice tip.

    • Im Just Saying says:

      ala’ Will Forte in Slammin Salmon!

      • cherveny says:

        If I do plan on staying a little longer than usual, I always throw in a little bit more in tip, to make up for wait staff possibly not getting as many tips by a delay in getting new customers.

        • burnedout says:

          Yeah, but it sounds like these women didn’t even get a chance to throw in a few extra dollars before they were chucked out.

          Maybe they were lingering too long, but the restaurant was excessively rude. At the very least if they needed that particular table (as the article says) couldn’t they have explained the situation and invited them to finish their drinks at the bar? I wouldn’t have been offended if I was talked to like a reasonable adult.

          One thing no one’s mentioned – if they’re drinking two bottles between the two of them they probably have no concept of reality, so a little embellishment is not unlikely.

        • chrisexv6 says:

          Same here. My friends and I used to go out to eat after billiards, etc. It would be late at night so the places werent busy, but we would stay for long periods of time (3-4 hours) just bs-ing.

          Many times we would get the check and the wait staff would get a tip that was actually larger than the total bill. They never had a problem with us staying there for a long time, and tended to remember us when we showed up because we always tipped well.

  3. backinpgh says:

    If the restaurant is busy and others are actually waiting for tables, I’d say 30 minutes max after your table is cleared. And even that is a little rude. But if the restaurant is empty then I say whatever.

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      Maybe if it’s a franchise. When did we start herding consumers like cattle?

      • jessjj347 says:

        I would argue that the idea of eating and getting out is a big part of American culture (think fast food), so even if it’s not a franchise, other restaurants are going to experience something similar.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          This is hardly an American thing. In most of the civilised world, you’re expected to eat, spend 15-20 minutes, and get out, assuming the place is busy.

          Restaurants have to turn tables to make a profit. If you’re holding that process up, you’re depriving the business of profit. Nothing wrong with letting your food digest a little before leaving, but don’t try to have a psychotherapy session in the middle of a dinner rush.

          • Stupidone0 says:

            I disagree. Rushing to eat out is definitely an American thing. In most restaurants in Europe, it’s ok to linger at a table for several hours.

    • ZJM says:

      I agree, but if you linger when the place is empty, atleast pay the bill so the waitstaff can cash out because they are waiting for you to leave so they can go home..

      • ellemdee says:

        Agreed, but I’ve had a waitress ask us to pay the bill before we even ate so she could leave. Actually this happened several times at the same restaurant with the same waitress & the place was mostly empty. She was nice about it, but I think they should at least wait until after you eat to ask for the bill to be paid (or have another waitress collect the bill if the one who takes the order has to leave right away).

    • Difdi says:

      Generally, I feel like lingering for 25% of the total time it took from when you were seated, to the time you finished dessert, is completely reasonable, and 50% isn’t too bad. If you linger longer, you’d probably be more comfortable someplace with better chairs.

  4. snarkysniff says:

    If Im not holding them up from closing and there is no one waiting to be seated I think they should leave me alone. If I dont fall into these two categories then yes I think they should politely be told that there are others waiting and that they could really use the table.

    • Noir says:

      This. We get it, you have kids, no life and feel entitled to a 5 hour dinner because you “never go out”, but guess what: there are lots of businesses who would love to have you there after dinner as a cinema, pub, bar, teathre or whatever. Even a mccafe/starbucks would do.

    • Jbjohn942 says:

      What about the server who can’t leave until you are gone and they aren’t being seated any more tables? Ever though about that? My boyfriend’s a server and he always gets stuck behind because someone is taking forever to leave and they don’t leave any extra for his tip.

      • Tim says:

        I would assume he’s getting paid for that extra time he has to work. Otherwise, he should file a complaint with the state’s labor department.

        • Jbjohn942 says:

          Yes, a whole $4.23 / hour – taxes. Totally makes up for the fact that they’re too selfish to realize what they’re doing.

          • zifnab0 says:

            You only get paid less than minimum wage if you aren’t accurately reporting your income to the IRS. If you are getting less than minimum wage in pay + tips, then your employer is required to make up the difference.

            Of course, a lot of wait staff don’t do this because they don’t report their tips as income, because you’re usually doing better than minimum wage.

            • Thespian says:

              “If you are getting less than minimum wage in pay + tips, then your employer is required to make up the difference.”

              I don’t know where you’re getting your information from, but this simply is NOT TRUE. Even if for some reason you were the worst server in the world that day, and literally received zero tips, you still make only that below-minimum-wage hourly rate (here in Texas, that’s $2.13).

              • Thespian says:

                Well, never let it be said that I can’t admit to a mistake. Turns out I was wrong, and the previous poster was right about the make-up-the-difference issue. It is indeed the law.

          • Anonymously says:

            Having never worked in a restaurant, I had no idea any of this was true. If it’s negatively affecting you, you should politely educate your patrons so they can act on that information.

        • GameHen says:

          I posted this further down the line, but I’ll post it here too. When I was waiting tables, our sales per hour were tracked. The higher your average, the better sections and shift you got in the future. Therefore, a lingering customer can bring down your averages and you can easily “lose” several hundred dollars (depending on restaurant) by being scheduled on slow days and in small sections that are closed early.

          • SaraFimm says:

            So let me get this straight. Pushing customers to leave gets you more income? I guess the owner would prefer he had a Fast Food Restaurant?

      • uberbitter says:

        Not that I tend to linger all that long, but I have had waitstaff tell me upon paying the bill that if I need anything else, they’re leaving but Server ABC will be happy to get it for me.

      • jeff_the_snake says:

        then that’s a problem with the way the restaurant handles their register. when my girlfriend was a waitress she and other waitresses would frequently close out the check for tables that had long since finished eating if their coworkers shift had ended more than a couple minutes earlier. i guess that only works if you work with people you trust not to pocket all the cash though.

  5. SerenityDan says:

    15 minutes after you are finished everything and are not going to order something else.

  6. DigitalShawn says:

    Get in, do your thing, and get out. Quite simple actually.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      In many other countries, it’s typical to have a multi-hour eating experience. French culture, for example, often has restarant outings that last 4 hours. So you have to keep in mind that some people like an eating “experience” rather than a quick in/out.

      I personally want to be able to enjoy each course and allow an appetizer to sit for a while before eating my main course, but restaurants tend to shove the food down your throat as quickly as possible.

      • AnonyMouse says:

        I don’t wanna sound like a jerk or anything, but this isn’t another country we’re speaking of. It’s America. If someone would like that French dining experience, France is just a plane ride away. Eat your food and leave, 15 minutes after your food has been eaten is long enough. It’s not fair to others that would like to dine as well.

        • Kishi says:

          Man, half the time our waiter hasn’t even bothered to bring us the check by 15 minutes after I finish eating.

          I may just deal with inattentive waiters, though.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          Being out within 15 minutes is not part of American culture, though. There’s no such widespread and generally accepted rule in the US and you saying that it’s acceptable doesn’t mean it is. In France, there’s mutual understanding that you’re allowed to take your time, and if that means three hours, it means three hours. In the US, until a certain time or lack of time is generally accepted etiquette, I’m going to sit and enjoy my dinner. I went to a birthday dinner the other day – we stayed there for three hours. Not one person from the wait staff said anything to us about being there for so long.

          • FranktasticVoyage says:

            “In the US, until a certain time or lack of time is generally accepted etiquette”…

            Well, I think that’s the point here.
            In the US, a 2 hour dinner is the norm. That’s how restuarants take reservations, and that is what is expected.

            Your 3 hour dinner was on the long side and probably inconvenienced people, whether the wait staff told you so or not.

            • pecan 3.14159265 says:

              Well, we stayed long enough to rack up a $300 bill (there were six of us) so I’m pretty sure they were okay with it.

        • Keep talking...I'm listening says:

          I suppose explains the difference between American lovers and French lovers too…LOL

      • LHH says:

        Yes but usually that French 4 hour lunch consists of multiple courses including cheese tray and dessert, then maybe an aperitif or coffee. You have to take that long or you would never get through the courses.

        In America it’s usually appetizer, main course, maybe dessert.

        I have never understood the need to linger in a noisy restaurant after I finish eating.

        The whole French or Italian thing I completely understand and totally dig.

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      If I’ve got reservations and plop down over $100 for dinner for two, then I’ll sit there as long as I damn well please, and I’ll tip 20% too, unless I get rushed out. I’ve rushed through most meals all of my adult life due to conditioning in environments where a 30 minute break is considered extravagant. I want to enjoy my food and my company.

    • Harmodios says:

      Sir is a Romantic. Is that how you treat your wife as well?

    • Harmodios says:

      Sir is a Romantic. Is that how you treat your wife as well?

  7. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    Depends on the restaurant and the wait. If I notice a huge crowd of people waiting, I don’t cut my enjoyment short, but I also recognize that a beer at home tastes as good as a beer in a restaurant (and costs less!)

    I’m also obstinate, so if I feel like I’m being rushed at the end of a meal (especially if I’ve been there less than an hour in a nice restaurant), I’m more likely to take my time.

    My parents lived for a time in Belgium, where you have the table for the night, they don’t worry about turnaround. If you reserve a table for 8pm, you have that table until they close, and they won’t seat someone there at 6pm because they don’t want to rush someone away for your reservation. It’s an odd, but relaxed, system.

    • JGB says:

      But, also, maddening if you aren’t European. I am married to a Belgian and we go there a lot. Dinner takes all evening. If you are seated at 7, you will still be there at 11, guaranteed. Combined with the way European restaurants are much more closely packed, and I am ready to start swinging by the time the coffee comes.

    • TomL says:

      Ever notice how much time a driver takes backing out of a parking spot when they notice you are waiting to move into it? Not an uncommon behavior.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        I read about where some researches actually tested this behavior, and in fact, people did take significantly longer to back out of a spot when someone is waiting. I wouldn’t be surprised if people did this at restaurants as well. I think it gives people a feeling of control.

        I do think that people have a right to take their time, but dragging it out for 2-3 hours is silly unless you have a reservation at a nice place and are paying quite a bit for your meal. We always make a reservation at a time where they won’t have time to seat anyone else, but before the last reservation. That way, we can take our time without worrying about someone needing the table.

    • Mercurywaxing says:

      This reminds me of a French restaurant we happened upon in NYC. It was a hole in the wall mom and pop with great food. Our party of 6 entered at 8 (after the theater crowd) and stayed for about 5 hours, well past when the post theater crowd had left. We were never asked to leave or even looked funny. I have to admit some of us started to feel guilty.

      At midnight the owner, a little old man who said he was 75, came out of the kitchen with his chef and wife and joined us for a bottle of wine. They were thrilled to see a family come in, eat slowly, and have a real meal together. His hated how everybody rushed through their food to get to a show or club. He retired back to France a year later and the chef moved on. I’ll never forget them though.

  8. apd09 says:

    It all depends on the type of place, if it is a Chili’s, TGIF, type place that wants to turn over tables quickly then 30 minutes after the meal is acceptable. If am paying 150+ for dinner at a nice establishment then I should be able to sit and enjoy coffee longer or have a few more drinks.

    • JohnDeere says:

      what if your idea of a nice establishment is Chili’s, TGIF ect.. and you only get to do it a couple times a year.

      • apd09 says:

        you know what I saying, a place like TGIF and Chili’s has the business model to get people in, serve them, and get them out as fast as possible. I used to wait tables at a TGIF so I know this for a fact. If I am going to a place that is more upscale where an entree costs 45+ then I should be able to hang out for a while after.

        • zibby says:

          I agree, if it’s a nice place like a Sizzler you should be able to relax and enjoy the atmosphere for a bit longer.

          • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

            Sizzler…hehe…those are still around…

            I was thinking even more up scale like a Perkins (good coffee) or a Ponderosa Steak House. I have to say as a teenager…we spent many an hour in Perkins drinking coffee and socializing….so you should be good to go at their establishment.

            • halfcuban says:

              I’m not trying to be elitist here but…a Perkins is more upscale? That’s like saying Carraba’s is more upscale than Olive Garden. If you’re dropping less than 30 bucks a plate you’re not in upscale territory.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        With all due respect, I’ve never been in a Chili’s TGIF or similar establishment that I would consider “nice”.

        And so what you only get to do it a few times a year? That doesn’t give you the right to sit for 5 hours and keep others from dining.

      • pjorg says:

        Enough with the relativism. These restaurants are chain franchises that make money by providing relatively cheap food at a low cost, and then selling lots of it. Other restaurants that are an order of magnitude (or several) more expensive make their money (ostensibly) by providing an outstanding experience, which includes not being rushed.

        Notice the difference in ambient noise in each of these establishments? It’s not an accident; if it’s louder they know that you are likely to leave faster.

        If you consider Friday’s or Chili’s to be “nice restaurants” and you “only get to do it a couple times a year” then that’s all well and good, but it does not change this reality.

    • tdogg241 says:

      But by staying and having coffee or more drinks, you’re still giving the establishment money, so it shouldn’t be an issue that you’re taking your time. Personally, I think once the check is signed (thus, not ordering any more items) you should probably be on your way within about 10 minutes.

  9. wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

    As a former waiter of many years, I nor my co-workers minded campers as long as we were justly compensated. Order an extra glass of wine or a dessert definitely helps. At one particular nicer establishment, we could notify management if we thought we had campers who were just holding up our waiting list. Management would then make a stop, and a second 15-20 minutes later if necessary. No one was ever asked to leave.
    However, we were angered when people camped during busy times and didn’t tip a little extra for it. Tipping is always a sensitive topic here, but that is just the perspective of the (many) people who were making money off as many tables as we could in a shift.

    • GuidedByLemons says:

      Yep, if I end up camping lengthily for any reason, I leave an exhorbitant tip.

      Sometimes I go to game nights at restaurants where we play cards for hours, and we always do it when they aren’t busy and ask their permission first. Being as I follow a pretty strict diet I often eat before I come and then just order a soda (while other folks in my party order meals), and then I end up leaving a 200% tip or so.

      • Hermia says:

        Same here. If it’s slow and we’re not holding them up from closing maybe we’ll order another round and/or tip extra to compensate the server. It’s never seemed to be a problem, but just sitting there drinking free water while people are waiting is rude. If there’s a wait we usually try to wrap up and get out of there so the server can turn over the table.

    • FrugalFreak says:

      If management wants it to be a assembly line type establishment, price it as such.

      • FranktasticVoyage says:

        And if management wants it to be a linger and enjoy type establishment, should they price it as such?

        Would you still go if prices were 20% higher?

  10. NarcolepticGirl says:

    Hm. I’ve never really cared or noticed.

    I realized the other day that I’m probably one of the quickest diners. I eat pretty fast and want to get the hell out.

    As a diner having to wait – there’s no way I can tell who has been hanging around unless I sit and stare at the other diners for an hour. I’m usually outside smoking or talking to someone while I wait.

    If I was a server, I wouldn’t really care, either. Whatever. if they want to hang around – that’s fine. It’s just one table.

    • Randell says:

      Obciously you have never been a server. If that ONE table is one of only 5 you have that means 20% of your income. THEN if another group of campers comes in, you can only seat 3 of their tables. Of course, there is the 4 top, that only has two people in it, and suddenly your potential to actually make money is shot to hell.
      In what other business is it acceptable to hang out AFTER you have finished your purchase and take up space from others who would be paying. After you buy clothes, do you stand at the cash register and discuss other things you want to do that day, while others wait to pay? When you ride a plane or cab, do you sit around and chat with your friends until YOU fell you are done? How about at a hotel? Common sense, and being polite would tell you not to stop the course of business for you to chit chat. If you are still ordering drinks and/or foods, then you are still spending. Otherwise, you are just sucking the air. At that point, it is time to go.

  11. Eat The Rich -They are fat and succulent says:

    I feel that once you have asked for the check and paid it, wait no more than 10-15 minutes.

    That said, make sure you are ready to leave before asking for the check. Or if your waitperson (rudely) slaps it on the table before you are ready to go, do not give your payment to them to process until you are ready to leave.

    Also, if you are in a “fast turn” restaurant like Applebees or Chilis, you are expected pretty much to vacate once you have inhaled your meal.

    In higher end restaurants, you should be able to linger with coffee for a half hour or so after your meal.

    However sitting at a table for 2 hours after a meal deprives other diners from enjoying a pleasant dinner and costs the restaurant and the waitstaff money.

    I know of a couple restaurants that have “lingering fees” or require you to purchase dessert and coffee if you stay longer than a half hour or so after your plates are cleared.

  12. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I’d say if the place is clearly bustling, it’s probably etiquette to leave in a timely manner. If the line isn’t out the door, you can stay as long as you damn well please (within reason, i.e. not long enough to hit the next meal period). But certainly, be sure to leave a tip cummensurate with the length of time you stayed.

    Also, another polite thing to do if it’s moderately busy would be move to the bar to allow eating customers sitting space while you continue to enjoy your beverage.

  13. amhorach says:

    I think this is an issue where cultural or regional differences might come into play. In addition, expectations may vary from establishment to establishment (casual dining vs. a high end joint, for example).

    My view is that if you’re ordering *food*, you’re allowed to stay at the table as long as you’d like. Once you’ve stopped ordering, ask for the check. The time it takes to process the check does not count as “lingering”. Once the check is paid, however, you have, at the absolute upper limit, 10 minutes to vacate the table.

    If you’re done eating and wish to keep ordering drinks, go to the bar. That’s why it is there. Most places no longer have smoking anywhere, including the bar, so the old excuse of “But it is smoky at the bar!” no longer applies. If you’re drinking alcoholic beverages, the excuse of “But it is full of loud drunk people” doesn’t apply to you, either, because odds are even that you are one of those loud drunk people and everyone else wants to to GTFO out of the dining area in any case.

    • adrienna says:

      If it’s so busy that you feel like you can’t linger at your table with a couple of drinks, then there probably isn’t room for you at the bar either.

    • jessjj347 says:

      IAWTC, except I think that it is acceptable to stay at a table if you are still ordering drinks because the wait staff will continue to make tip money from you. So, I don’t think one should have to go to the bar.

  14. .b.e.x. says:

    How about looking at it from the restaurant/server’s perspective?! I’ve worked in states where I made just over $2/hr and depended on my tips. Imagine a table that sits there for 2 hours and the server ends up making diddly squat. That table probably could’ve been sat at least one more time in those 2 hours doubling their chance of making a decent amount of money. I wish every patron had to work in a restaurant or behind a bar. Or maybe even in the hot kitchen, in the dish pit …

    • Draygonia says:

      Remember, if a tipped employee does not get enough tips to earn at least minimum wage, than the employer MUST pay the difference.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        Doesn’t make it any better, though! Minimum wage is not living wage.

        • Kryndar says:

          It makes it better just not necessarily good. Also that depends on where you are, I live in Ontario and minimum wage recently went up to $10.25.

          • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

            and what part of Ontario do you live in? In Toronto, $10.25/hour (especially with all the taxes that come out of that, and the taxes you pay to acquire things) really doesn’t cut it. Besides, in a licensed establishment, minimum wage is $8.90 an hour, not $10.25.

            http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/info/minimumwage/ if you need more info.

            • Kryndar says:

              Ottawa is where I live and I was actually living, fairly well as far as I am concerned i.e. managed to get money into savings, on $10.50. I do admit that I have little interest in what a lot of people will spend money on, not intending this as a slam at anyone’s way of living. Also, unless I am mistaken the same rule applies that with tips you are suposed to be getting at least minimum and if not you are suposed to get more from you employer, which is why I mentioned $10.25 rather than $8.90. Also I am aware that $10.25 will not cut it for everyone or everywhere, my point was that compared to a lot of places $10.25 is high minimum wage and that for at least some people $10.25 can sustain you.

      • FranktasticVoyage says:

        Woo hoo Minimum Wage! Thanks!

    • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

      On the other hand…what if the people that stay the extra 2 hours give you one big fat tip for being nice to them by letting them stay longer…or just because of your charming personality. I can only speak for myself, but I’ve left some pretty big tips…not because the food was all that…but the waiter/waitress took my mind off what a shitty day I had and my experience a great one.

  15. digital0verdose says:

    This completely depends on the situation. Personal dinners usually clear out quickly after we are all finished.

    However, business dinners are a different beast. I’ve had these go on for the better part 5 hours where the last few hours are post dinner and just brainstorming, negotiating or discussions. In these instances, if I am the host, I try to keep it palatable for the restaurant by keeping coffee, drinks or more appetizers coming.

    I am also a little more forward thinking and when I make reservations, I let them know that it is a business dinner and it may go long so they don’t double book the table.

    Communication is the key people!

  16. stooj says:

    To slightly change the topic – if it’s near closing time and you’re the last table, leave. You’re keeping your waiter, the dishwater, the manager, probably two more waiters, and a cook or two there. Let them go home. As a waiter I used to hate it when people walk in ten minutes before closing time. “You’re still open, right?” Yes, they made it in before we lock the doors, but it can take an hour to cook for and clean up after a customer.

    • rpm773 says:

      I usually won’t dine at a sit-down restaurant less than an hour before closing. Especially if it’s already starting to clear out.

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        same here. And I put up a fight with friends that want to go into a restaurant an hour or so before closing.

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        Me either; if it’s possible I’ll get it to go. If not, I’ll come back another time.

    • Narmical says:

      I’m sorry, but Closing time is Closing time.
      If your restaurant wants to be all closed and gone home by 10pm, then set closing time at such a time as when the last person is seated at closing time, everything is wrapped up at 10pm.

      • stooj says:

        I’m not saying you don’t have the right to be served. I’m only highlighting the human element of what you’re doing. You’re pissing the very people who are about to cook your food. I’ve seen cooks microwave steaks before because they want to go home.

        • psm321 says:

          Then they should tell me that. As a naive eater, if I show up at a restaurant 15 minutes before closing, I ask them if it’s ok. If they say it is, then I accept that. If it’s not, say so.

    • halfcuban says:

      I’ve only done this once that I can remember; in fact me and my party sat down a minute before closing. Our tip was 100% to make up for the inconvenience for everyone involved.

  17. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    I’d say it depends on how crowded the restuarant is. If it’s packed and you can see people waiting, get the fuck up.

    If not, 30 minutes is plenty of time to schmooze, but I mean if the place is empty take your time, just make sure you tip adequately.

    We had an issue like this at a small restaurant in downtown Kalamazoo. We had a reservation, but we were going to be late – we called ahead and told them. We got there and they had given our table away so we waited over an hour while other diners were just sitting and talking and taking their sweet time.
    We even had some guy that the restaurant knew try to come in and take our table out from under us!

    • ScubaSteveEL says:

      Was it Rustica?

      I’ve had an experience waiting there for quite a while with a reservation because there’s only about 10 tables and people like to linger there.

      We had our table near the end of the night when nobody was waiting, so it was probably a solid 2 hour dinner with drinks and dessert for us.

  18. CortJstr says:

    Ray’s the Steaks, a popular steakhouse by me, used to warn people they’d be kicked out when they made the reservation. If you made a reservation prior to something like 8pm they’d tell you that you’d only have the table for 90 minutes. If that’s not OK then you need to make a later reservation. Naturally lots of people would develop selective deafness and not hear the warning and make a stink at the restaurant when they were asked to leave.

    Since they’ve moved to a larger location I’ve heard they no longer do this but I haven’t been to confirm.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Did they factor the size of the party? If I’m bringing six people to Ray’s, I hope they understand that it would be very poor form to attempt to get six people in and out in 90 minutes.

      • CortJstr says:

        I once went with 5 and we were given the 90-minute limit. Though our reservation was very early, like 5:30, and we were easily done in the allotted time.

        We didn’t mind because we were warned up front and the chef (who took the reservation himself) agreed to let my grandmother order a 4oz fillet off-menu and adjusted the price accordingly. Plus this was at their old location (the current site of Ray’s Hellburger) which was roughly the size of a Quizno’s.

  19. dolemite says:

    Sorry no, I’ve only been on one side of the issue. Waiting for others to finish. When I am done eating, I want my check asap, and I want to get on up out of there. Who are these people sitting around sipping coffee for an hour after eating? Fine if no one is waiting, but if there is a line, it’s time to go.

    • Charmander says:

      Well, they did say they had brought two bottles of wine with them. I’m guessing they were enjoying that wine and in no rush to leave.

  20. melcat says:

    I work at a server for an Italian restaurant in a tourist location. At this particular place we’re only given a section of 2-3 tables for the night. When we have a table that sits there for over an hour *after* they’ve paid the bill—they’re killing our opportunity to make money. And when you only make $2 something an hour you really rely on tips. Even if you’ve been told you can go home for the night, you’re not allowed to leave until the table leaves.

    • evnmorlo says:

      This is probably the real reason waitstaff are paid in tips. Not to improve service but to encourage them to kick people out and maximize revenue for the restaurant.

  21. nickcv says:

    If you stay longer, tip extra. You’re blocking your server from taking another table. I’ve had couples come in, order water and cups of soup, stay for two hours, and leave me $4. It’s a dick move, and it happens too often.

  22. Thyme for an edit button says:

    It’s okay for them to ask, and it’s okay for me to never go back to that restaurant again because of it.

    • zibby says:

      If they need you out, they’re not hurting for business. They don’t want you, and they’re glad you won’t be back.

      I know, I know, someday they’ll be sorry!

  23. pantheonoutcast says:

    Once upon a time, I went out with family for a celebratory dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant in White Plains. There were around 16 or so of us, and had a 7:00 PM reservation. 7 turned into 7:15, which quickly became 7:30 and still no table. I asked the manager, nicely, what the problem was, and she told me that the only table big enough for us was still in use – by a party who had been there for four and a half hours. She was very apologetic, but told me there was nothing she could do, as she couldn’t very well go and ask them to leave. Our party was stuck standing in a very small bar area – no offers of free drinks, nothing.

    At 7:45, I went over to the largest table – it was completely cleared, no drinks, no food, and the people were sitting around talking. The bill had been paid, because I could see it sitting on the table. I walked right up to one of the “customers” and asked if everything was to their liking, and he replied, “Oh, yes, everything was great.” My response to him was, “Wonderful, because we would like to have our dinner now too,” and I pointed to the rest of my party who was standing frustrated over at the bar. Then I just stared at him. The man apologized, and in five minutes, everyone had vacated the table.

    Long story short, the manager ended up comping us two bottles of wine and all the appetizers for having to wait an hour for our table.

    • Kryndar says:

      You know… I want to call what you did a dick move but I can’t bring myself to do so. So I’ll just call it ballsy.

    • mommiest says:

      I don’t blame you, but I really think the manager could have done a better job with this. A simple, “Gosh, it’s been great having you, but this table is reserved for dinner, hope you understand, please come again,” would probably have worked.

  24. XTREME TOW says:

    Two hours and fourty minutes? If there are people waiting for a table, that’s just plain RUDE!
    People like that need to get a LIFE! The owner has every right to refuse service if they want.
    It’s a judgement call: If they are not busy, you’re not obnoxious, and leave a good tip, what’s the problem?

    On the opposite side of the coin:
    A small diner in Orange County I sometimes frequent with my friends offers us free coffee refills and no time limits if we sit at the counter near the front window during slow periods to make it look like the place is modestly busy to attract potential customers passing by.
    (Yes, the food is very good.)

  25. JohnDeere says:

    as long as i want as long as im paying full price.

    • dolemite says:

      Er…no. You can’t come in at 5pm and sit there until closing just because you bought a $20 steak. You’ve cost the server about 20-25% of their wages, and the restaurant hundreds of dollars in lost meals. People want to sit around and chit chat? Go back to your house and sit around all night. You want to eat…go out, eat, then leave.

  26. reimero says:

    This is a bit of a pickle, to be honest. There’s a fine line between “enjoying the evening” and “loitering.” I’m very much against the notion of trying to hurry customers, as some places are inclined to do, in order to increase turnover. On the other hand, if the restaurant is operating at capacity and there is still a wait, it’s unfair to the restaurant, the server assigned to your table and the waiting diners to continue to occupy that table when you are done eating.

    I used to be a server, and as with most servers, it was a means of generating an income rather than passing the time. This means we wanted to maximize our nightly tips, and that generally meant walking a line between keeping customers happy and turning over tables as quickly as possible. I don’t mean to sound crass, but one more table during dinner rush was another $7-10 or so in take-home pay for me. It’s probably apples and oranges, but in 2.5 hours, a table should be good for 2 or possibly even 3 seatings, depending on the nature of the restaurant (we were actually taught that average turnaround time industry-wide was approaching 45 minutes, but this wasn’t something that was hammered home as a performance measure. It was more a metric for knowing how to time order placement; a lot of servers were still assuming 1 hour to 1:15.)

    My feeling is this: if the meal is eaten, the dishes cleared and the check delivered, and it’s clear they will not be ordering anything else, and if there’s a wait, and if they’ve had a reasonable (5-10 minutes) opportunity to pay and leave, at that point, I think the restaurant can step in and ask them – politely – to pay and move to the bar or something. If the store isn’t busy, it should only be an issue if they remain long enough that the server is on the clock exclusively due to that table (i.e. not taking any more tables, side work is already complete, restaurant is closing, etc.)

    • NaomiK says:

      I’ve had a manager move my group — not because we were loitering, but because they needed to rearrange tables to accommodate a large group, and this would be easier if we relocated to a different table. She did it with bribery — IIRC she offered us a complimentary appetizer for the inconvenience. If a restaurant wants to move diners-turned-drinkers over to the bar, offering a free drink is an easy (and really not that expensive) way to do it.

    • NaomiK says:

      I’ve had a manager move my group — not because we were loitering, but because they needed to rearrange tables to accommodate a large group, and this would be easier if we relocated to a different table. She did it with bribery — IIRC she offered us a complimentary appetizer for the inconvenience. If a restaurant wants to move diners-turned-drinkers over to the bar, offering a free drink is an easy (and really not that expensive) way to do it.

  27. yevarechecha says:

    What bothers me is in places like Panera where people come in with what seems like their entire home office, don’t even order any food, and just sit there using the free Wi-fi for hours. Often, it is one person hogging a table with seating for 4. Meanwhile, people who have actually gotten food have no place to sit down and eat it. I understand people love free internet, but Panera is primarily an eatery. If you are not going to eat, you should not hog space from people who are. Go to the library or something or at least have the courtesy not to take up an entire huge table with all your papers and computer and coffee you brought in from Starbucks.

    • pb5000 says:

      All of the panera’s near me have a nice wi-fi terms of service welcome page that you have to agree to in order to use the internet. It’s very tasteful and pretty bluntly says something to the extent of, “hey use your brain and give up your table if we’re busy and need the table for other paying customers.”

  28. ffej712 says:

    My wife and I were celebrating her birthday with a large group of friends at Shoguns a couple months ago, and were asked to leave RIGHTafter the last person finished eating. My wife and her friend ordered sushi, and it took about 2 hours until they brought all the pieces out. By that time, half of our friends had paid and left. The waitress wouldn’t even run my credit card until my wife received all of her meal. How bad is it when even the waitress doesn’t have faith you’re going to get all of your food?? My wife’s friend had literally just finished eating the last piece, and was signing her credit card receipt when we were asked to leave the table. Instead of an apology or a discount for the long wait, they kicked us out!

  29. ianmac47 says:

    As a diner, I feel no obligation to leave before I am ready. Maybe that will be ten minutes after I finish my meal, maybe that will be an hour. That said, I would never want to keep a wait staff waiting to close down for the night on my account. But as to other diners, there is no obligation to vacate for them. Asking a diner to vacate a table before they are ready is perfectly fine provided the wait staff accepts that they will have a correspondingly smaller gratuity.

    • FranktasticVoyage says:

      You sir, are a selfish jerk.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      It’s not about obligation, it’s about human decency. If I can see a place is busy, then I can take my convo to Starbucks or something. If you don’t care about other people, fine, but some of us do.

  30. Aeirlys says:

    If there’s a wait, I feel ok staying until the wine or coffee is finished – 10-15 minutes after the food is cleared. At that point, I’ll move the to bar if I want to stay. If the restaurant obviousy isn’t busy I feel ok parking at a table for a while.

  31. Commenter24 says:

    If you’re still ordering or eating, stay as long as you want. You’re paying to be there. Once you are done ordering/eating GTFO.

    • dreamfish says:

      The moment you’ve swallowed the last bite, you have to demand the bill and start putting on your coat?

      I think I’ll forego visiting your friendly restaurant.

      • Commenter24 says:

        You should actually be forcefully demanding the bill the precise moment the last bite leaves your fork. It’s actually best to just pay cash, over-estimate the bill, throw the estimate + tip on the table and run for the door. Putting on your coat while still tying up the table is uber-rude.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        Why such an extreme example? No one is saying that anyone should do that. But people who camp out for an hour after their meal are selfish and entitled if others are waiting.

  32. JohnDeere says:

    i thought they were selling food not time? im staying till after my first bowel movement. lol

    • fuceefacee says:

      Yes, they are selling food but you need turnover of customers to make money. But I do agree with others that if the place is fairly empty, then it’s okay to linger. After all it’s a restaurant not a club house. Join a club if you want to linger until you have a movement.

  33. Harmodios says:

    In Europe eating out usually takes the whole night, often we arrived around 7 and stayed till they closed at 11-12. We did keep ordering drinks though. I do sometimes miss that here, it’s too much ‘production line’ for me.

  34. nbs2 says:

    It really depends on the layout of the restaurant schedule. The best restaurant I’ve ever been to had two seatings, three hours apart. I would have no problem with a diner that shows up one time for the earlier reservation time lingering until 5-10 minutes before the latter reservation.

    For other restaurants, I would suggest the rule of common sense. If there are people waiting, and all you are done eating, 15 minutes at most and then go. If nobody is waiting, then just hang out until closing.

  35. opticnrv says:

    Wait staff often refer to customers who linger after dining as ‘campers’. If you work in the food service industry, the existence of ‘campers’ are a reality of the business you are in. It has been forever. It’s one of the disadvantages. Some advantages are working short hours for higher pay, easy access to food (often better quality or more healthy than you would buy at home), and a highly social working environment. Ya gotta take the good with the bad in any job. Get over it.

  36. PatrickIs2Smart says:

    Well at dat der buffet… We dun show up fer breakfast, eat alls we can, take a nap, then we git full on lunch! TWO FER DA PRICE A ONE!

  37. djshiner says:

    I think it is great that the owner of this restaurant was willing to ask people to leave. I’ve never worked in a restaurant like this, as most management is TERRIFIED of their customers.

    Also, I tend to believe the restaurant over the customers as far as how long they were there- people always exaggerate how long they have been at a restaurant to suit their needs (“We’ve been waiting over an hour to get our food!”, “Well actually ma’am, our computers say you were only seated 35 minutes ago”), and most restaurants these days have proof of how long a table has been sitting.

  38. Rufusthenakedmolerat says:

    As a former waiter, I have had both good and bad experiences with people who linger long after the check has been paid. If the table expects me to continue to refill their drinks and run errands for them for the next hour, I’m happy to – if they tip accordingly. If they sit around and chat and take up a table that would otherwise be making me money and not tip – that’s when I get upset. If you’re gonna take up a table for a long time, tip your waiter well and there should be no problem.

  39. GameHen says:

    Long ago during my waitressing days, provided the kitchen was running well, we were expected to turn our tables in 45 minutes.

    When business was running slow to average, we generally would never pressure anyone to leave. Most servers had enough tables turning that they could maintain their tip and sales rates (better sales averages per hour = better shifts and sections) without too much pain.

    However, during a rush, the unspoken rule was after you drop the check, stop by every couple minutes to ask “do you have everything you need” until you’ve annoyed them into paying. After they’ve paid, you neglect them until they’re gone. The loss of tips due to annoying someone who is taking up a table is generally worth it to turn the table for more tips and better sales averages.

    Now, should the manager/owner directly ask a table to leave? It’s really up to them. Again, the loss of a customer may to worth it for the revenue they are losing due to long wait times at the door.

    Personally, I think it’s really rude to hang out in a busy restaurant when others are waiting to eat if you’re finished with your meal.

  40. Retired Again says:

    I have owned restaurants. Starting with my second property I had a boxed statement on the menu – “very readable” that stated during very busy hours and due to some peoples limited time PLEASE consider the other persons waiting to be seated at the first opening. Thank You.
    Said differently on different menus.
    I would FIRE a Manager who would ask someone to leave such as your example. The person would multiply his or her anger 10 fold or more, send in negative online statements for all to read and do anything else in recourse.
    Today we are all wound too tight. I have to let the 10% who overstay … do so. It may be an honest over-sight on their part.
    Steel fist, even in a velvet glove, is still a steel fist and not applicable in this case in my opinion.

  41. Robert_SF says:

    If the place has a line of people waiting, then pay the bill, finish your drink(s), and get going…You are paying for a meal and place to eat it, not rental on a table-space…

    As for the “moochers” who take up an entire 4 top at a Starbucks or Panera, they piss me off…so I stopped asking permission to share the table, and just plop down. I don’t knock the table around, or *try* to disturb them, but if it’s pretty obvious that they aren’t an actual customer (or at least not recently, i.e., plate/cup not on the table), then I just sit down and do my thing. If they object, I just say something like, “Hey, I have to eat/drink somewhere, and since you don’t have any food here, it seems like a good place to sit”…something like that.

  42. Geekybiker says:

    As long as you’re ordering stuff, stay as long as you want. If you’re nursing the 5th refill on that bottomless drink and your bill was paid more than 15minutes ago, its time to think about leaving so long as its busy.

  43. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    He owns the place…he has the right to say what ever he freaking wants to say. If he wants them to go..then they need to leave. I just wonder if this same type of logic applies to my in-laws when they come over to my house to eat.

  44. Ilovegnomes says:

    I think the clock should start ticking after the bill is paid. Diners have no control over how long the waitstaff takes to take their order, how long the kitchen takes to deliver the food or how long the check takes to get to the table or how long it takes for them to process your payment and provide you with a receipt… however, the restaurant does! So yeah, let your patrons finish their food, pay their bill, finish up a conversation (within a reasonable period of time), put on their jackets and leave before getting bent out of shape.

  45. chancyrendezvous says:

    If you are going to linger a bit, what’s an appropriate amount to add to the tip?

    • Aeirlys says:

      That’s a good question – I’ve never thought about it. Maybe a percentage point every 30 minutes or so?

  46. Ilovegnomes says:

    Another issue that should be addressed is if the restaurant serves alcohol but does not have a bar/lounge area to free up the table and wait off the effects of drinking it, should they be allowed to kick someone out so soon after consuming it? I realize people could take a cab home but what if someone made a long drive to get there and a cab ride would be cost prohibitive? Then what is appropriate?

    • NaomiK says:

      You know, this is a good point. I have lingered on a few occasions because I needed to sober up a bit. When the weather’s nice I’ll go for a walk, but if it’s freezing or raining or otherwise unpleasant, that’s an unappealing option.

  47. NumberSix says:

    After 30 minutes, I think the place has a right to ask you to move on. Personally, as long as you are buying food you can stay, but if you are done and paid then GTFO!

  48. FrugalFreak says:

    Depends on the cost of the meal, the type of eatery. For cheap basic diners maybe 10 mins but for high dollar Rest, I’ll take my time and soak in the atmosphere I’m really paying for anyways.

  49. ATXag says:

    If you haven’t read the linked article at the beginning of the 29-95 post, it’s worth reading.

    http://blogs.chron.com/cookstour/archives/2010/02/chef_bites_crit_1.html

    Apparently the owner of this restaurant is quite the jerk as he threw out a food critic from the Houston Chronicle for sending back a steak she felt was not cooked how she ordered it. After reading that I was definitely more inclined to believe that he may have exaggerated the time these ladies were “hogging” the table.

  50. jimstoic says:

    If there’s no line and the restaurant isn’t closing, probably 30 minutes after getting the check wouldn’t be unreasonable, assuming the check isn’t put down until all diners are through eating. If there’s a line or the wait staff are waiting on me before they can leave, 15 minutes after getting the check seems reasonable.

  51. parrotuya says:

    If you linger, buy some booze of coffee, otherwise, giddy-on!

  52. lillym says:

    I’ve had issues at lunch time with people lingering. There’s one place in particular, you go and order the food then they bring it to you.

    Several times I’ve gone in and gotten in line and all the tables are full but there are enough five or 6 that are done eating. It’s easy to tell, they have empty dishes, or empty drinks and either people are socializing or having meetings.

    the first time there ended up being about 10 people standing around unable to sit down and I finally went up to a staff member and asked if there was anythign they could do, maybe clear some dishes away and people would get the hint.

    That seemed to work.

    although another time I just went up to someone who had clearly been done and was lingering and said “excuse me, there’s no place to sit, could I have your table when you are done?” and that was enough to get them to realize they needed to move.

  53. shaqfu says:

    I remember one time in a large party (about 10 people) waiting for a table at a restaurant in Palo Alto, we were told 5-10 more minutes for 2 hours. It turns out they were waiting on a large group who were lingering over wine to leave. When we were finally seated, I understood why we had to wait, but I was annoyed that we were strung along being told that our table was almost ready when we could’ve gone to a different restaurant. For our pains, we were given a couple of free appetizers. I’m wondering if that was sufficient compensation.

  54. MercuryPDX says:

    I’d give it a max of 20-30 minutes of hanging out after the check is paid.

  55. sadolakced says:

    Manager:

    I’m sorry for asking you to do this, but we’re a bit short on tables tonight. Would you mind moving your conversation to the bar? I’ll give you guys a drink on the house.

    Patron then doesn’t really have a polite way of refusing– Even if they don’t drink, they’d be total assholes for refusing to move to the bar.

    Of course, if there is no bar, then I guess there’s not that option.

  56. baristabrawl says:

    Servers don’t make money unless they turn tables. One of the restaurants I worked for in college used to keep the restaurant cold so people wouldn’t stay long. Works GREAT!

  57. Uluz says:

    I know some people I refuse to go to dinner with. They’ll just keep talking for HOURS after everyone is done eating. We should go to the bar and sip on a drink or go outside and talk. Taking up a table for hours after everyone is done is ridiculous and frankly, embarrassing. I am surprised no one never told us to leave.

  58. maztec says:

    Totally depends on the culture, the restaurant, and the bill paid.

    $25.00? Go home if you want to chat.

    $125.00? You’ve rented that table for at least an hour after you are done with your meal.

    McDonalds? Go home to chat.

    Petite a la Minage? You’re having a romantic dinner, you are expected to stay after you are done with your meal.

    Anywhere, USA? Get out of my chair, your meal is done.

    France? You linger after the meal, it could be over an hour.

    On the flip side, I have experienced far too many restaurants where I sit down for a quick lunch, with a limited time, I am served quickly, my meal is done, there is no front register, and it takes over 30 minutes for me to get a bill … and when I get it, it takes them another 30 minutes to process my change.

    Ugh.

  59. Carlee says:

    I mostly go to fast food restaurants or Asian cuisine restaurants so maybe it’s different, but if I’m done eating, I’m leaving. After I pay, obviously. If I’m eating with friends or family visiting, then maybe you can sit for a short while, but why not just go to someone’s house? To me, that would be much better than sitting there feeling like people are watching and waiting for you to leave.

    • duke40 says:

      Smart restaurants know how to handle campers easily enough and in a very polite way. If you ever get greeted by the manager and get an offer to have “dessert on the house…at the bar” you are being asked in a very nice way to vacate the table. Gordon Ramsey and I’m sure many other top restaurateurs will offer a lingering table “an exclusive tour of the kitchen and a special nosh”. Of course at that point you are out of the table and the problem is solved.

  60. cmhbob says:

    The Funkturm Restaurant in (then East-) Berlin rotates, at the rate of about one rev per hour. My dad & I visited there in 82. We had a nice meal, then asked for dessert. They said no, you’re only allowed to be up here for one revolution.

  61. Der Hoff says:

    I believe for the in-and-out chains that have been mentioned, TGIFridays, Applebees, etc., you need to eat and leave because lets face it this is the style of dinning these chains are based upon. At a nicer place you should have a little more time to enjoy the dinner without the threat of being kicked out.

    I just recently moved to Europe and dinner here is a more intimate affair. The bill is not slapped on the table after the entrée has been served while asking if you would like anything else. The wait staff does not rely on tips so the whole process of dinner is slow, relaxing, and enjoyable. At least to me it makes it stress free and really allows one to appreciate the ambiance. Here if you want fast you can always swing by a kebab place and have a meal.

  62. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    If the place is only partially full, you’re doing the restaurant a favor by being there. Does anyone like to go into a restaurant and be the only ones there? How many times have you skipped over a restaurant because there were no cars in the parking lot?

    If the place is packed and others are waiting, no more than 15 minutes (less is better).

    If other diners aren’t waiting but you’re being loud and obnoxious, 0 minutes would be great. Otherwise, maybe 30 minutes. Usually the waitstaff will let you know when its time to go when they start giving you dirty looks. Conversely, if they don’t seem to care, stay for an hour and order coffee.

  63. tekgk says:

    This type of situation happened to me yesterday at one of my favorite BBQ joints. The little shop only had a seating capacity of 45 on a night where there were 15-20 people in line ordering and an additional 15-20 people waiting on on seats to free up. That’s a total of 30-40 people waiting on seats in a capacity eatery.

    One d-bag party of 6 finished their meal (no check here since everything’s paid for as you order) and chatting it up sipping on their beer. 20-30min later, not a single one has even made it 1/2 way through their bottles of beer and with the line and to-be seaters still piling up, these fools still didn’t have the sense to just finish up and take their conversation elsewhere.

    Common sense with a bit of courtesy here people. If you’re done, get the hell out so others can enjoy their meal as well. The owner didn’t ask them to vacate but I’m sure at least a good 10 or so of us lining up against the wall would’ve been happy to do it. This goes the same for those that get into their cars in the parking lot and then decide to snack, redo makeup, and reorganize their glove boxes before pulling out of their spot.

  64. savdavid says:

    As long as they discount the meals by at least 50% for rushing me out, I would go. Otherwise, I would just say “no” and never come back.

  65. YdoUthinkURright says:

    I think that it’s safe to say the 15 minute rule is fair. After all is finished, 15 minutes is when you should get up and let the next group sit and enjoy. Anything longer seems like a a-hole move. It really also depends on the establishment and what you’re paying for the meal. $50 a person, you should be able to sit around for 15-30 min after the meal. $100 a person, the staff is not rushing you out anyway because you will never come back if they do.

  66. smo0 says:

    If the place is CROWDED…. then I could see giving someone the boot… as a server – I once had a group of teens order one slice of pie really late and night – they were there for over an hour just bsing… I was kind of annoyed but I still gave great service, checked up on them etc…. the pie? like… 2 bux…. the tip? $15.

    I have a little bit more patience now… but I’m no longer in food service….

  67. Cicadymn says:

    This is why I don’t eat at those Japanese places where they cook the food in front of you. The owners basically sit in a corner and as soon as you’re close to finishing the meal they ask you to pay and leave. Even if you’ve only been there for a little while.

    It’s why I don’t eat at those places anymore. Bad service, mediocre food, extremely rude and pushy staff. It’s a wonder that any of them still exist. But I could say the same for Hollywood. People shell out tons of money to go see the latest pile of garbage that they’re spitting on the screen. Apparently millions of people just can’t wait for more Chipmunks or Marmaduke.

  68. Anaxamenes says:

    As a server, If there are many open tables, I don’t mind at all if people want to stay and talk for awhile. If it is busy however, or gets busy, I think it’s polite to move the conversation to a coffee shop. We do need those tables so that we can help other customers.

    It’s the same thing I do at a coffee shop if I have my laptop. Many open tables, I’ll nurse my beverage if I’m not super thirsty. If there is only one open table, I’ll be either buying more drinks or giving my space to a paying customer who has just come in.

    It’s not just about the restaurant making money, it’s about the wait staff turning tables and being polite to other people that would like to eat out that evening as well.

  69. wee_willie says:

    Just long enough to have a smoke. Of course, we can’t do that in Ohio anymore, so I’d say 10 minutes. 12, if you smoke longs.