How Long Will You Wait In Line For A Restaurant?

Inching forward, popping up on your toes to look over their heads, rarg! How much longer?! Waiting in line to get into a restaurant can be excruciating. Or a time to catch up with friends and engage in some delightful people-watching. Depends on what kind of person you are. So, how patient are you? Or busy? Or hungry? What’s your upper max for how long you will stand in line at a restaurant? Sound off in the comments!

How long would you wait in line? [Fat City] (Thanks to Kyle!)

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  1. Shadowfire says:

    45 minutes for a good restaurant. No more than 10 for the typical chain place.

    • keith4298 says:

      Depends how long it will take to get to and wait at the next place. I recently waited 30 minutes because the #2 option was 20 minutes away and the trip length plus possible wait time tipped the scales.

    • suez says:

      Yep, especially on a Friday night, if you want a decent sit-down restaurant and don’t have reservations, you’ll be waiting that long no matter where you go not to mention the time added of driving in traffic and reparking. Might as well cut your losses and stick it out.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I don’t think an hourlong wait on a Friday or Saturday night is unusual, especially if the place you go to refuses to take reservations. There are a few restaurants in DC that won’t take them, and there are a few burger joints that (because they’re burger joints, not the Palm) don’t take reservations and you have to stand in line just like everyone else. The burger joint I go to doen’t usually take longer than 20 minutes to place an order, though – that’s if it’s really, really busy.

    • Astrid says:

      I think it also depends on how many people you’re with. table for 2 or 4, I wouldn’t wait more than 25 minutes. If you’re trying to seat 6 or more then expect to be waiting at least 45 minutes.

      And at that point if you have a large group you might as well stay and wait because large tables are hard to come by even on not so busy nights.

  2. diasdiem says:

    I don’t. I eat at the bar. Because I’m alone. So alone…

  3. tgrwillki says:

    Twenty Minutes is usually my cap, Maybe 45 if the place has a bar where I can get a drink while I wait.

    • dg says:

      10 minutes for me. There’s too many other restaurants around. If I have a reservation – I expect to get seated no later than the reservation time. If I don’t, and I don’t agree with the explanation – I leave.

  4. MissPeacock says:

    No more than 30 minutes, tops.

    • RyGuy1152 says:

      30 minutes for me also is the absolute max, even for my favorite restaurants. If it’s longer than that I try somewhere else. Also, if I’m in an unfamiliar place, I factor in how much time it would take to find a new place both my wife and I would like, drive there, and the risk we’d have to stand in a new line. If that time is less than the current wait time, we leave – if not, we stay.

  5. Blueberry Scone says:

    I have waited as long as an hour, especially if I’m already in a crowded, busy area on a Saturday night. If it’s a 45-minute wait for Place A, it’s probably more of the same everywhere else. As long as I’m not terribly hungry, I can wait.

  6. farcedude2 says:

    For 1 pub in town, I’ll give em an hour. Because they’re that awesome, and you can get the beer while you wait (so it’s not that bad). Everywhere else, about 20 minutes.

  7. humphrmi says:

    30 minutes without kids. With the kids, depends on how hungry they are, hungry kids won’t behave in restaurants so I’d probably skip the wait.

  8. jdmba says:

    Depends on whether I had to valet or something; but I won’t really wait. I do not agree that I should have to wait for other people, particularly if there are other places to go in super close proximity. I do not believe restaurants that refuse to take reservations should benefit from that decision.

    I usually leave my name, and then walk right out the door; looking for other places. If I can’t find any place by the time the quoted time is up, then I go back; otherwise, I will go to the place with no wait.

  9. Robofish says:

    It depends on who I’m going with. If it’s a place like the Cheesecake Factor we’ll wait for a while and ( hour and half is the longest we’ve ever had to wait ) and then just go walk around or sit and talk in the meantime.

    • cosmic.charlie says:

      90 minutes for a chain restaurant is way too long. Just call up and order the food to go and take it home. You can also save on drinks and the tip this way.

      • chargernj says:

        i still tip on take out orders. In most places a server will be theone putting the order together. I dont tip the usual 15-20% though. Usually just a few dollars.

      • mandy_Reeves says:

        well in my area, Cheesecake Factory is sort of a destination stop…like 30 min away from my home at the big regional mall. So, I would not be taking it home. I think alot of the cheesecake factories are away from residential areas, so thats an issue i guess.

    • np206100 says:

      Ugh that place is the worst for waiting. I wouldn’t wait 10 minutes there even if they gave me free beer. There is no where to stand without being pushed out of the way by ravenous cheesecake seekers.

      • np206100 says:

        nowhere….. not no where……I should no better

      • Brunette Bookworm says:

        I saw a Cheesecake Factory in Boulder, CO and there was NO LINE!!! And empty tables!!! I was shocked.

        Depending on the day and what restaurant it is, I’m willing to wait 30 – 45 minutes. On a weekend evening at a busy, sit-down restaurant I expect to wait about that, which is why I usually don’t eat at one then. If I’m there with a large group and we didn’t give them any advance warning I’m willing to wait a little longer so they can get tables together, etc.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      I wouldn’t wait five minutes for their food.

  10. It'sRexManningDay! says:

    30 min, tops. I am a grouch when I am hungry. I don’t go out much on Saturday nights, unless I have a reservation.

  11. koali says:

    30 minutes if I REALLY want to eat there. I’ll go 45 minutes if there are some shops around. I went to PF Chang’s once on a Saturday night and there was a 3 hour wait.

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      PF changs is not worth a 3 hour wait.

      • hoi-polloi says:

        PF Chang’s is arguably not worth walking into at all, let alone with three hour wait. Backinpgh nailed it – if you live anywhere with real ethnic food, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Here in Pittsburgh, there are many better options.

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        It’s not worth a 1 minute wait. We have fantastic Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese very close by. If we want bland crap, we got to Pei Wei, which is far less expensive than P.F. Chang’s and have the same stuff.

    • backinpgh says:

      People’s fascination with PF Chang’s will never cease to baffle me. You’d really pay all that money and wait all that time for super-Americanized, bland, unspicy, tame versions of “ethnic” food?

      • yusefyk says:

        Yes, I’ve had it in a trip to California. Could not even believe the prices compared to the quality of the food. But at least getting halal there is much easier than a real Chinese place.

        Still I wish one of their fans would come on this page and explain the appeal. I don’t mean that as to criticise them, just to understand their point of view, maybe some of the dishes are really excellent.

        • jeff_the_snake says:

          I have no idea what halal is but here in harrisburg pa I think every Chinese place has it printed on the front of their menu.

          • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

            Halal is to Muslims as Kosher is to Jews. IOW, permissible for consumption by Muslims.

        • Dieflatermous says:

          I’ve always felt like the people who make a point of eating there are also congratulating themselves on how diverse they’re being that week. :/

          They’re also baffled by the “scary” foods at my local corner store (rice noodles, samosas and perogies for goshsakes).

      • mandy_Reeves says:

        It’s a step up from your garden variety chinese take out. I like the atmosphere,kind of upscale on a budget. I always order the singapore street noodles and the wonton soup, which has some kind of buttery flavor that you don’t get from your typical take out place. Plus they have the typical chinese stuff but it always tastes better.

        And the portions are more than generous. I always take over half the stuff home when me and my hubby share. They encourage sharing there too. It’s like you buy something the whole table will eat.

    • Michaela says:

      PF Changs is like that in my area too. The only time I ever go is when I have a reservation. That usually makes the wait only about 30 minutes (still not great, but for some reason, that is the only decent place my friends like to go).

    • BuyerOfGoods3 says:

      Wow. Never been to PF Changs – now I know why. Most excellent Advice, consumerists!

  12. colorisnteverything says:

    I would wait about 45 MAX for a good place and usually I can get to the bar and have a drink and appetizer in that time. Usually when we go out to a busy place we are prepared to wait. One place in particular (our favorite “Mexican” place) is a good wait even on a Monday at 5 PM. So, we pack our patience. Usually the food is so good, it doesn’t matter.

  13. InfoDump says:

    If its a “put your name on the list and they’ll call you when a table is ready” situation, 45 minutes is my upper limit. If I go to a restaurant and there’s an actual physical line to get to the hostess to get a table, I turn around and go somewhere else.

    So, 45 minutes, tops.

  14. uberbitter says:

    15 minutes tops for most places, maybe as much as 25 if I really don’t feel like going elsewhere, but only because the wait is almost always significantly shorter than what the host station tells you. Any restaurant that is worth a longer wait takes reservations.

  15. RickinStHelen says:

    15-30 minutes tops. If it is so busy that you have to wait longer, than a reservation should be available. If it is an Applebee’s or Outback type place, ten is tops.

  16. mikeyo says:

    It used to be 20 minutes or so. Now that we have a baby, it is 0 minutes

  17. myrna_minkoff says:

    No more than 10 minutes. Fortunately, I live in a downtown with a ton of great restaurants close to each other. You can always get a table someplace decent without waiting.

  18. Cyniconvention says:

    20 minutes for a good restaurant. I wouldn’t wait at all for a chain.

  19. DWMILLER says:

    Captian Jacks in Sunset Beach: I will wait
    Lucillie’s BBQ: 45
    Any place else is 10-20 min
    Red Lobster: never
    Olive Garden:Never
    Outback:never

    • Wickedly says:

      All right, a local! I’ll second Captain Jacks for anyone in the southern LA/Orange County area.

      You should also try Don the Beachcomber for happy hour…it’s excellent.

    • stevgex says:

      I agree Cap’n Jacks for the win. If I’m hungry after last call, nHarbor House but I know I wait there.

  20. c!tizen says:

    If they have a bar that I can sit and have some pre-diner drinks, I’ll give them 30 – 45 min. If there is no bar, 5 min and I’m gone.

  21. Delixer says:

    It depends on how hungry I am and how many people are in front of my party. Usually no more than 10 minutes for a chain restaurant and 30 for a good restaurant. If it’s more than that I walk out and get fast food or make myself something to eat at home like I should be doing anyway.

  22. techferret says:

    For me, the max I wait for a good restaurant is 45-60 minutes. If it’s your restaurant chain variety, then its less then 20 min. And since I have a toddler, if he’s not willing to wait, then I’ll go somewhere else.

  23. pantheonoutcast says:

    I was over on Lex yesterday, and noticed a block-long line stretching down 56th St. The destination? A store that sold “gourmet salads.” On either side of the store was a Cosi and a neighborhood deli, both completely empty. People were literally waiting upwards of 30 minutes for take-out salad.

    It must have been some really primo lettuce. Either that, or people are idiots.

    • ARP says:

      That’s my big complaint about NY restaurants, so often people get caught up in the novelty or the cache’ of the place, that they don’t realize that they just waited 45 minutes and paid $12 for a PB&J sandwich.

      BOT- If they have a bar and its a good restaurant= 45 minutes to an hour.
      Good restaurant and no bar= 30 minutes
      OK restaurant and a bar= 30 minutes
      OK restaurant and no bar= 10 minutes
      Everything else= none to 5 minutes.

      • mandy_Reeves says:

        exactly! like when soup nazi was famous, people waited forEVER to get a dam cup of soup! Cripes! Just go to frikkin Wawa, sheetz or your local convenience store. Pretty much the same thing and only a 5 min wait tops!

    • Daverson says:

      I’d go with “idiots.”

    • DingoAndTheBaby says:

      See also: cupcake fad.

  24. scoosdad says:

    “Seinfeld!! Four!”

    That was right at the very end of the Chinese restaurant episode and that’s about my limit, too. 30 minutes.

  25. mbemom says:

    Not long…I have zero patience. I would say that for our family of 5, we are willing to wait a max of about 15 minutes. There isn’t a restaurant on earth that I am willing to wait longer than that. The only exception we made anytime recently was for my 6 year old’s birthday. She wanted to go to Olive Garden, of all places, and we waited for almost and hour!! And I hate that place. But, I consider it a birthday gift and she was happy. Never again, never again.

  26. AstroPig7 says:

    45 minutes for Chuy’s, no longer than 30 minutes for any other restaurant.

    • Sunflower1970 says:

      Even at Chuy’s we won’t wait more than 20 minutes. We will eat at the bar, though, if we can find room.

      (I’m in love with just their chips, salsa & queso. I can make a meal out of it.)

    • BuyerOfGoods3 says:

      I still refuse to eat there – because I can tell from the Parking Lot, there’s going to be a wait.
      Nevermind that they are “always hiring” and, they pay incredibly low wages. I don’t want to support a company like that.

    • milk says:

      One Saturday night around Christmas the Chuy’s on Barton Springs had a 2-hour wait, so my family and I walked over to the trail of lights. By the time we got back it was just about our turn to eat.

  27. Anonymously says:

    3 minutes in the drive-through at McDonalds…10 minutes if some jerk in front of me orders unsalted fries.

    • PerpetualStudent says:

      I knew a guy who worked for Bakers. He used to just dip the fries in water, dry them, and throw them back in the fryer for a little when people did that.

      Doesn’t sound good.

    • Marshmelly says:

      my mom always asks for unsalted fries…they give her salted fries everytime anyway. haha. I’m surprised that particular McDonalds actually took time to customize a fry order =P

  28. wbeem says:

    In most cases, 20 minutes is my max. The exception is if I’m at a popular event where there just aren’t any alternatives to wait (or it’s Saturday night). In those cases, you’re probably facing a wait no matter where you go.

  29. MaliBoo Radley says:

    I don’t wait. If it’s good enough to be waited for, I make reservations. Anything that’s casual with a line, meh. I take my business somewhere else. Never has a meal at some casual joint been good enough to wait for.

  30. cash_da_pibble says:

    The longest I’ve ever waited was an hour.
    And that’s only if there’s a large group that is set on the location.
    Any longer than that and it’s a waste of time- I refuse to wait longer than my meal will take to consume.

    But if it’s just me and the BF, then usually 15 mins.
    We may wait longer if they have a bar, but no more than 30.
    But we aren’t the kind to get stuck on a place- we’ll just go to a taqueria instead.

  31. deadandy says:

    Why wait? A table is usually only a $20 bill to the host away.

  32. Bodger says:

    If I have reservations and I show up a the agreed time — zero minutes max. If they can’t handle their business properly then it is a place best avoided since their food is probably no better than their planning. If I show up someplace without reservations — while on the road for example — and it seems possible that I might get served in an hour or so and if there is a bar where I can wait and if the place has a decent reputation and vibe then I’ll try hanging around to see what happens. If I wait long enough to get sloshed in the bar then I won’t feel like eating anyway . . .

    • JMILLER says:

      Yes because planning for the party that is normally 2 hours decides to sit at a table for 4 hours is usually the restaurants fault. Or the guy who shows up with ONE of the people for their party of four, while the other 3 get there 45 minutes later and the true reservation time is screwed up, or how about the asshole who makes reservations at 8 restaurants, then when they are ready to go out, shows up at one of them, but doesn’t have the decency to call the others.
      There was already a complaint on this voard about restaurants asking people to leave after an appropriate amount of time, because THEY PAID and they can sit however long they fricking want to.So zero minutes is “reasonable” to you. I hope your work is perfect, because one mistake and you give your boss the excuse to fire you with no second chance (in essence what you have done)

  33. suez says:

    We once stood waited 30 minutes in a long line at 7:30 pm for a Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington, VA, but it was worth it.

    • Etoiles says:

      We didn’t make it to Ray’s Hell Burger before Obama went there so now the line’s always too long, haha.

      We go to Ray’s The Steaks fairly often, though. Well every couple of months, anyway. The new location is fantastic for actually getting in, having a reservation, etc.

  34. georgi55 says:

    Deja vu???

  35. DariusC says:

    Lone Star? I will wait 30 mins even though its a chain. Usually there is never a line and plenty of seats… but this is Alaska…

    Most of the time usually around 10-20 minutes… otherwise I say “well, I can save money on tips and time if I go get fast food”.

  36. toberead says:

    Partly it depends on how the wait is set up. If you have to wait in an uncomfortable waiting area or noisy bar: maybe 15 minutes. If you can leave your name and spend the waiting time browsing nearby shops: 30 minutes or more. I’m definitely more willing to wait if I’m not tethered to a “waiting area” and the restaurant has beepers or something similar.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      I agree with this. I’m not standing around outside in the three digit heat for any restaurant.

  37. leastcmplicated says:

    for Tacqueria Del Sol, I’ll wait in line forever… mmmm

    • ARP says:

      In Chicago, there’s a place called Hot Doug’s, that often has an 1.5+ hour wait. So yummy, that’s my only exception to my wait times.

      • Emperor Norton I says:

        There are 10,000 hot dog joints in Chicago.
        I’ll be damned if I’m waiting more than 5 minutes for one!

        • sixseeds says:

          But how many of those other joints will offer gator sausage with a side of french fries cooked in duck fat?

  38. andyg8180 says:

    I dont wait in lines… if i cant get a seat at the bar, i leave. If i really want to try the restaurant, i will go at lunch time where not only is there is a short-to no line, but theres usually a cheaper lunch special….

    screw waiting, its not that serious…

  39. Cantras says:

    The idea of waiting in line for a restaurant is bizarre to me. They can give me a time and then call my name, or give me a buzzer, Maybe I’m not eating at flouncy enough places.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Matchbox in DC doesn’t take reservations. On an average Friday or Saturday night, the wait is an hour minimum. They don’t take reservations and they don’t give buzzers, so everyone hangs out at the bar or in the teeny lobby or just outside.

  40. InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

    The most I’ve waited was an hour – Saturday night, Cheesecake factory, and it was a going-away dinner for a friend who was moving out of state. Other than that, if I’m travelling and in an area where I am unsure where to find other restaurants that are likely to be less crowded, then 30 mins max. Around home, where I know where to go, no more than 10 mins.

  41. Nick says:

    5-10 in a chain restaurant, ~30 at a place I really like. I’ve waited over an hour before, and there’s a place not far from my house that has people waiting 3-4 hours every night of the week.

  42. dulcinea47 says:

    Maybe an hour? Depends how hungry I am, how much I want to eat at that particular place, and if there’s somewhere to hang out while waiting.

    One of my former roommates was a hostess at a very popular restaurant/brewery… she said the wait could get up to FOUR HOURS at times, and people would scream at her about that being unreasonable. No kidding it’s unreasonable! What’s even more unreasonable is the fact that some people are willing to wait that long!

  43. Jfielder says:

    Depends on the deliciousness of the food… 20 minutes for most places… but if we’re talking something delicious and awesome like Slow’s BBQ in Detroit… I’ll probably wait an hour and a half for that… And then hope my car hasn’t been broken in to, or still there in that amount of time.

  44. backinpgh says:

    There is this excellent barbecue place in Detroit called Slow’s. I will wait days in line to eat there. Other than that, 45 minutes, and that’s only if I’ve been there before and know it’s good. For boring chain places no more than 15 minutes or so.

  45. Bakergirl says:

    Never had to wait more than 30 mins for a restaurant. I live around too many to have to wait.

  46. 44Wadeable says:

    If it’s someplace like Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse, you end up putting up with that hour and a half wait. Nowhere else, though… 20 minutes absolutely tops for anywhere else.

  47. MuffinSangria says:

    If it’s a line to just get in to sit-down place, than 0 min. If there is space at the bar to have drink while waiting, then an hour or more depending on the place. No place to sit while waiting (including places that aren’t sit-down), 10 minutes.

    Of course, I have back problems. Walking is fine, but cannot do just standing around.

  48. TheMonkeyKing says:

    30 minutes without reservations; 5 minutes with. No more chain restaurants for me as I am very fortunate to live in an area with so many locally owned restaurants.

  49. Etoiles says:

    It depends on…

    1.) Why I’m there,
    2.) What my other options are, and
    3.) How hungry I am.

    Breakfast places / diners, for example, usually have a line way out the door on Saturday and Sunday mornings. But there don’t tend to be that many of them in any given area, and at most of them, the lines move pretty quickly. So I’ll wait 20 – 30 minutes for a table there, because I know I’ll get one and I know what I’ll get when I get one.

    For dinner restaurants? There are a lot of very good, equally priced restaurants of almost every type accessible from our place (we live in metro DC) and most of them do either reservations or call-ahead seating. So I really don’t ever see the need to wait more than 10 – 15 minutes, unless I’m at a place for a specific item I can’t get elsewhere, or unless we’re there for a specific reason (someone’s birthday, it’s their favorite location).

  50. Kishi says:

    Half an hour, probably. There’s a pizza place in Phoenix that’s supposed to be amazing, but you have to line up outside for 2+ hours, apparently. In this sun? Nope.

  51. Sajanas says:

    The first rule of skipping lines is to never go out to eat at a mall restaurant or one of those crazy popular chains on a weekend night. Not only does it take forever, but the food quality really goes down the busier the place. Usually a non-chain restaurant that isn’t immediately adjacent to some sort of mall or stadium or what not is never that busy if you get there earlier in the day. But I’ll never wait more than the time it takes to drive somewhere else.
    Otherwise, make a reservation.

  52. smbizowner says:

    it would have to be a DARN fine eatery for me to wait longer than 15 minutes.

    and nothing comes to mind at this minute.

  53. myCatCracksMeUp says:

    Usually no more than 20 minutes, but there have been a few times I’ve waited longer. Usually that happens only if I’m not very hungry and there are empty seats at the bar; then I might wait longer and nurse one drink through the entire wait. I generally won’t wait more than 5 minutes at a cheaper chain restaurant.

  54. Preyfar says:

    10-15 minutes, maybe. It really depends on how far over or how much of a drive it is to the next restaurant we’d go to. Even if it’s a 5- 10 minute drive, but they may be just as full, is it worth it? Sometimes waiting the little bit extra isn’t bad. All depends on what else is happening.

  55. AstroWorn2010 says:

    We waited about an hour for breakfast at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville 2 weeks ago and it was worth it! Anyplace else about 20 min.

  56. miss_chevious says:

    For me it really depends, but not on what type of restaurant it is, but on what mood I’m in and how hungry I am and what the people I’m with want to do. There are restaurants that I will wait an hour and a half for, and there are ones that I will walk out of, and sometimes those are the same place.

  57. MadameX says:

    30 minutes, and only if I’m really craving something in particular. Usually, we go elsewhere if the wait is longer than 15-20 minutes.

  58. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    So many factors…

    If I’m at home (Denver Metro area), I will wait up to 30 minutes for most restaurants, 45 for one I really want to eat at.

    When I’m away from home (so I won’t have the opportunity to return soon), I will wait up to 45 minutes for a regular restaurant, or up to an hour for one of my favorites (like the W in Gunnison! Best French Toast on the planet).

    I will not wait a long time for a restaurant simply because it is the “hip” restaurant of the moment. I have to know it’s good to justify a wait. Also, if the host didn’t give accurate wait times (don’t tell me 10 minutes if it’s really 30) or is letting in their buddies or regulars first, I’ll just go find another place to dine. It’s not worth being treated badly in order to get a meal.

  59. hoi-polloi says:

    Lump me in with those with times based upon a kid in tow and without. In the old days or when it’s a kid-free evening, I’d wait 30-45 minutes for a place I’m in the mood for. If it’s an area with lots of options and I’m not feeling picky, that time drops. With my son along, I’m going to give five or 10 minutes max. No one will be happy towards the end of my meal if we have a long wait first.

    I’ve also done the thing where you put in your name at one restaurant, then walk down the street to another and check the time there. I don’t do it often, but I’ve got nothing against checking out my options.

  60. Aeirlys says:

    5-10 minutes for lunch, up to 30 minutes dinner. If it’s a peak time for restaurants (Friday-Saturday night, Sunday brunch), I only eat where I can make reservations.

  61. J Brill says:

    With little kids, I avoid places where there is a chance of a wait. If there’s another restaurant a quick walk away, I won’t wait more than 10 minutes. If it’s a car trip, 20 minutes.

  62. erratapage says:

    20 minutes, unless I’m starving.

  63. Sunflower1970 says:

    20 minutes. No more. Good restaurant or chain.

    If we do go out, we usually go early (doesn’t matter what day of the week) so we miss the big dinner crowd (which seems to start around 6:30 and go till 9pm.) So as long as we’re somewhere by 6pm we normally get seated within 5 minutes or less.

  64. kimdog says:

    15 to 20 minutes, unless it’s a super special occasion and/or place, then I might wait up to 45. I’m not really that much of a foodie… and in NYC, there’s generally another decent place within a five minute wallk. Waiting is too much of a bore.

  65. KJR52 says:

    Depends on the place, and how hungry I am. Usually I’m never confronted with a wait that’s longer than 30-45 mins, and that’s rare because I intentionally don’t go out to restaurants at peak times very often. If I’m told that it’s going to be longer than 30-45 mins, I’ll probably go elsewhere.

  66. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    We go on a weeknight, early, or late on weekends and avoid lines. I won’t wait more than about 30 minutes.

  67. sister says:

    About 15 -20 minutes but we usually go earlier in the day to avoid waiting.

  68. coren says:

    Into? Forget it. To be seated, I’ll wait 15 minutes on a normal night, about twice that on the so called busy nights (friday, saturday, holidays, thursday/sunday on a three day weekend, you catch my drift)

  69. melissam2828 says:

    Has no one mentioned Shake Shack in NYC?? I have waited 2 hours there before. It’s the experience though. It’s in Madison Square Park, so while you’re waiting you are under trees with a cool breeze and sometimes they bring out samples of frozen custard. mmmmmmm

  70. rework says:

    10 minutes period. Don’t care if it’s a chain or some fancy restaurant. If it’s THAT good of a place, they should be taking reservations.

  71. hewhoroams says:

    Depends on the restaurant. I won’t wait any longer than 5-10 mins at a chain place like TGIF or BWW’s. If we’re talking a unique place on a friday or saturday night, I’m willing to allow for some more time, 45 at the most.
    Otherwise, it’s at the bar, a reservation, or elsewhere.

  72. psm321 says:

    I don’t eat at fancy enough restaurants that this is often a problem. If the wait is more than 15 minutes or so, I’m going somewhere else. (I might even wait less depending on my mood)

  73. Blackadar says:

    When the hostess says 10 minutes or less. Because I know they always underestimate the time, so 10 minutes for them is really 20 minutes.

  74. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I’ve decided after reading all the posts that people waiting for insane amounts of time at The Cheesecake factory and P.F. Chang’s basically sums up what is wrong with this nation.

    • tbax929 says:

      So what’s wrong with this nation is that people don’t agree with you about where they should eat or what they enjoy?

  75. the_Jenkins says:

    20 minutes. If the hostess says anything longer, we’ll leave and go to any of the other 58,012,300,482 restaurants in the area which are slower.

  76. Rachacha says:

    When I first met my wife (my girlfriend at the time) we waited close to 4 hours to have dinner at the Cheesecake Factory on Valentines day (we had only known each other for about 3 weeks at the time). When we arrived, we were told it would be about 1.5 hours, then another 30min, then another 45min etc etc. We tried other restaurants in the area and they were no better, so we decided to stick it out and just talk to one another while waiting. It pushed our relationship forward by many many weeks as we got to see the good, the bad and the ugly as we moved from aggrevated to annoyed, to pissed to “Are we nuts?”. I highly recommend doing this to all new couples.

    After that year, we agreed to avoid Valentines day eat outs and stay at home, instead celebrating Valentines day at some other time of the year when we want a special “date night”

  77. Starfury says:

    I’ll usually wait up to 20 min with or w/o the kids but if it’s a super long wait there are lots of other places I can go that serve the same food.

    I can also go home and cook something too.

  78. hosehead says:

    Wait? No more than 10 minutes. I live in an area with so many fantastic options, I won’t waste the time…

  79. Ilovegnomes says:

    Usually I schedule dinner between 5-6, so that way I avoid crowds and get happy hour/early bird specials. Man, I sound old! LOL!

  80. jeff_the_snake says:

    5 minutes, if that. i tend to wait too long to leave the house and feel like i’m going to die of hunger just driving to the restaurant. i eat at random hours though so it’s usually never a problem.

  81. Kebyar says:

    If I know it’s going to be phenomenal (i.e. Xoco in Chicago, Momofuku Noodle Bar in NYC), I’ll wait just about forever – but wouldn’t wait 5 minutes for T.G.I. McFunsters or other such establishments.

  82. Fight Back Against David Horowitz! says:

    I’ve waited 45 minutes for Pink’s, but the wait can be much longer on a busy night. Why are they so damn slow slapping hot dogs together?

    I’ll only wait longer than 15 minutes for any restaurant if I’m in a group and can’t convince the others to try somewhere else, which seems to be disappointingly often.

  83. vastrightwing says:

    30 mins if I really like the place & it’s just me and my wife. The time I wait will change depending on how much I like the place and how hungry I am.

    Add 15 mins if they have a well stocked bar.
    Subtract 15 mins if the place is a national chain.
    Subtract 10 mins if the restaurant is loud.

    Fast food my wait threshold is about 3 mins.
    Burns Steakhouse in Tampa, I’ll wait 45 mins.

  84. RobofNYC says:

    For a great restaurant I will wait up to an hour (though I will usually leave and come back in 30 minutes). Some progressive places will call your cell phone 10 minutes before hand.
    For run of the mill, ten is my max.

  85. cybrczch says:

    Maximum wait (no bar) is 45 minutes
    I will wait longer for a non-chain restaurant than for a chain restaurant, fast food no more than 5 minutes.
    Usually I forget and go out to restaurants on the weekends that there are high school sports tournaments in town, when I realize my mistake I turn around and get takeout

  86. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    For the Newcombe family, the generic 15-20 minutes is the maximum wait we’ll tough out for dining out. Mrs. Newcombe is fond of places that allow for reservations (you can keep your damned “call-ahead” seating shell game, BJ’s!!)

    Exception: Almost any Brazilian BBQ/Churrascaria place–we’ll wait until the end of time (Texas de Brazil, we’re looking at you…hungrily…)!

  87. cameronl says:

    Nothing sadder than to see an hour wait at Chilis/TGI Fridays/Bennigans, while there are empty tables at the great locally owned and operated restaurant right down the street with better quality food. People are such sheep when it comes to eating out, afraid to try something or someplace new .

  88. evnmorlo says:

    I hate restaurants, so I wouldn’t wait. Unless I was trying to sweet-talk someone, which is easier to do when I’m not shoveling food into my mouth.

  89. brinks says:

    If I actually got dressed up and there was a drive, I’ll wait. I might wait an hour for the simple fact that, if more effort went into it than my usual jeans and t-shirt, I’m not letting that go to waste! If I’m in a dress, dammit, I WILL eat there!

    However, you can pretty much guess when there’s going to be a wait and avoid those times. I rarely bother going anywhere on the weekends anymore. If I do, I go early (4pm or so) and avoid the rush. At that time, it’s just me, my party, a few blue hairs, and…that’s about it.

  90. idx says:

    2.5 hours under the right conditions. The right conditions are jacque imo’s on a friday night so you can hang out at the maple leaf drinking abitas and listening to amazing live music until your table is ready.

    For a place like Chili’s or whatever I’d say 10 minutes.

  91. yankinwaoz says:

    5 minutes, tops. I do have a life.

  92. gparlett says:

    I pretty much always end up waiting, regardless. When you ask the hostess how long the wait they almost always say 15 minutes (If they say anything else that’s code for ‘you have no chance of actually eating here tonight’ and I will leave)… well it will take at least 15 minutes to drive to another restaurant so I stay. Once my 15 minutes is up and I haven’t been seated yet that 15 minutes is a sunk cost, I’m not getting it back by leaving. So I continue to wait.

    I hate eating in restaurants so much.

  93. WeirdJedi says:

    I’m not really the type of person who eats out, especially when it comes to the price. I also don’t like waiting around for food, especially when I am hungry.

    15 minutes max when waiting in line, 15 minutes max once sat down. I wouldn’t mind hanging out at the house with a bunch of guys and making sandwiches, but somehow I get dragged along to these places when I was hungry 2 hours ago.

  94. case31 says:

    I have 2 kids, so it’s 15 minutes tops before things get ugly.

  95. dannod says:

    If you find yourself waiting AT ALL for a chain restaurant (Applebee’s, Red Lobster, Chilis, etc.) I suggest branching out and looking for local restaurants in your area that are actually worth waiting for. Nothing makes me cringe more than seeing a line full of tourists outside the Waikiki Red Lobster. I mean really.

  96. dannod says:

    If you find yourself waiting AT ALL for a chain restaurant (Applebee’s, Red Lobster, Chilis, etc.) I suggest branching out and looking for local restaurants in your area that are actually worth waiting for. Nothing makes me cringe more than seeing a line full of tourists outside the Waikiki Red Lobster. I mean really.

  97. cosby says:

    Depends if they have a bar to hang out at. No bar I’d say 20 minutes tops in most cases. With a bar maybe 45 to an hour.

  98. NumberSix says:

    20 minutes.

  99. jkarasik says:

    If the place is obviously crowded, then 20 – 30 minutes. Recently, at a Denny’s in Long Beach, CA. at 10am, the place was not busy. However, the manager told the hostess to make us wait for 10 minutes since the kitchen was ‘backed up’. Wouldn’t even let us sit and have coffee while we waited. Needless to say, we split and went to a local diner down the street.

  100. suburbancowboy says:

    I’ll wait on line for Shake Shack, because we’re all sheep, and everyone else is on line.

  101. Bohemian says:

    15 minutes. If the wait is longer than that and they don’t take reservations I am gone. If it is a really nice restaurant they usually take reservations. The chain restaurants that have constant 45minute waits on the weekend and no option for reservations are just not worth it. I have better things to do with my time than be treated like cattle. I also determined that most of the time I can make whatever said restaurant is offering in 30-45 minutes but maybe I have different threshold because I can cook.

  102. YOXIM says:

    I don’t.

  103. markmark says:

    15 minutes, no matter how good it is supposed to be

  104. JMILLER says:

    It will vary. If it is Friday night at 7 pm, I hope there is a wait. If not, that tells me the restaurant is not very good, or won’t be in business much longer. I tend to look at the time it would take to go back to the car, decide on the next place and see what their wait is. I tend to eat at restaurants that have bars, so as long as I can have an adult beverage of my choice, it can be as long as I remain legal to drive.

  105. PsiCop says:

    Most of the time, only 15 minutes. If it’s a really good place, and we’re a large group … so that packing it up and going somewhere else will be more of a problem than it’s worth … maybe an hour.

  106. kennedar says:

    I will happily wait forever for Sunday morning brunch at Cora’s, thankfully they opened another one like 20 minutes from our house so that cut down on the wait time! Otherwise, we do not wait at chain restaurants. For a good meal, we almost always have a reservation, but if not, I would wait like 45 minutes.

  107. PencilSharp says:

    In a drive-thru: 5 minutes, max. Even if I placed an order, but haven’t paid yet.
    (brief aside: Stop putting newbies on the drive-thru window, you jerks!)

    Sit-down: depends on The Beloved Wife. When she gets tired, I get tired. Typically, if she sees a long line, she’ll spend literally three seconds thinking about it before she suggests something else.

    • JMILLER says:

      Yes, and the guy who has been looking at the menu for all that time and doesnt know what he wants never slows down the line. OR the guy who fumbles through his car looking for the correct change so he can get a $5 bill back instead of $4.62.
      If you know ANYTHING about trhe restaurant business, the drive thru is where they usually put more skilled and faster people (McD BK, Wendys) because that is their bread and butter during busy times

      • PencilSharp says:

        Sorry, dude… in my experience, the backup is always at the pickup window where customers have already paid… rarely at a pay window and never at the order point…

  108. RLars says:

    Giacomo’s in Boston is worth any wait, even if it’s February, snowing and cold.

  109. TheGreySpectre says:

    I don’t wait, I make reservations.

  110. Jemaine says:

    If it’s new to the area I’ll wait 45-60 minutes, but if I have been there countless number of times, I will drive by and if I see the entrance crowded with people I will go somewhere else, even if it is Taco Bell.

  111. MercuryPDX says:

    I wouldn’t. I’d find somewhere else to go eat. If you’re waiting in line FOR a table, just think how long you’ll be waiting AT the table for service. Pass.

  112. homehome says:

    Depends on how hungry I am and how much time I have. If I’m on a time limit obviously, I won’t wait that long. If I’m hungry and I have no time limit, then I’ll wait as long as it takes. Especially if one of my favorite restaurants. People on here are impatient lol.

  113. giax says:

    I don’t queue for a restaurant.

    The only exception if if I’m in a company that I care for and they insist and have booked in advance (however, if a place is booked for 9 PM I expect it to be ready at 9 PM so moot point).

  114. HammRadio says:

    Seinfeld. Four!

  115. jpdanzig says:

    Here in NYC, people routinely queue up to order at the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park for thirty minutes. Then you have to wait another twenty minutes for your food to be ready. That’s about forty-five minutes longer than I would ever wait for an okay, but not exceptional burger, served by a surly staff. Granted most of those in line are young folk who must find some amusing novelty in the ordeal that escapes me as an old.

  116. lettucefactory says:

    If it’s just my husband and me? 90 minutes. It seems like a lot, but honestly, I’ve got two small kids at home. Hanging out in line at a restaurant, something that seemed like a big hassle when I was childless, now seems like a luxury. I can spend that 90 minutes reading, or goofing around on my phone, or *gasp* having an adult conversation with my husband without anyone interrupting. Sign me up!

    We don’t generally go to restaurants with the kids. It’s such a hassle, and the cost is rarely worth the bother. But when we do, like when we’re traveling? We don’t go to places that have waits. I suppose I’d give them 5 minutes to get a table together if need be, if it was somewhere like Applebees, but that’s about it.

  117. HogwartsProfessor says:

    No more than forty-five minutes, and then only if they are super busy. Any longer is too long. I’ll find another place to eat.

  118. Blueberry Scone says:

    Bob Chinn’s out here has a loooong wait on Friday and Saturday nights. Hell, even a Tuesday night will see people camped out, waiting to get in. The wait’s long, but at least you can get a drink while you stand there.

  119. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I take back my earlier post; when I lived in Delaware, there was a cheesesteak place named Ginello’s, or Ganettos, or something like that. They delivered but sometimes it took two hours because they were so busy all the time.

    We would order by phone and starve to death waiting for those cheesesteaks. They were SO GOOD.

  120. dougp26364 says:

    30 minutes. Anything longer and I can generally find someplace else to eat. Anything shorte and going somewhere else takes about the same amount of time.

  121. locakitty says:

    I refuse to wait for a chain restaurant. Absolutely refuse. Then again, I don’t really go out much, soooo, it’s kind of moot for me.

  122. Jecker says:

    30-45 minutes tops. I justify it by figuring that yes, even though that’s a long wait, by the time i decide on another place and actually get there, most of that time would have passed. Plus whatever the wait would have been at the second location.

  123. roguemarvel says:

    My dad will not wait longer then 5 or 10 minutes max, unless he really really wants to eat there. We have left places with 20 minute waits only to drive around 20 minutes to find a place with a zero to 5 minute wait. Its pretty silly, I’m used to it but it drives my husband up a wall when we eat with my folks. Sadly I’ve gained a little of that. I will wait, but I’m more likely to want to leave the most people i know.

    Its the same way at weddings or parties with food lines, my family is either the first one in line so we don’t have to wait, or the last ones.

  124. watch me boogie says:

    My immediate response was “20 minutes,” but actually, I’d wait an hour if it were a place that had something I couldn’t get anywhere else, like vegan Buddhist cuisine or a particular dish I was desperately craving. But it should be said, I’m a really unfortunately picky eater and also vegetarian, so most restaurants pretty much suck for me anyways and one of them isn’t much different from the next.

  125. Brendon says:

    Under most circumstances, 35 minutes, unless waiting in line is considered part of the dining experience, as in a place like Shake Shack in New York – I’m willing to wait up to an hour for a Shack Burger, fries, and one of their fancy custards (the best is sweet corn).

  126. crazedhare says:

    Not at all.

  127. Splendid says:

    15 minutes for a table. in san francisco there are endless choices so why wait?

  128. RogueWarrior65 says:

    Screw that noise. If they don’t take reservations I won’t eat there. Life is too short to stand in line for sit-down dining.

  129. ldavis480 says:

    When I lived in Phoenix, Arizona there was some buzz about a new restaurant in the Heritage Square neighborhood called Pizzeria Biancos. Now the word was that it was rated by some publication (which escapes me) the number 1 pizza in America. You would think that such a prestigious award would live in a city like Chicago or New York; my choice seemed clear that I should give it a try.

    The word was that you are going to have to expect quite the wait when getting in line at this restaurant. Unfortunately they didn’t accept reservations, you had to show up, put your name on the list and wait. If they call your name and you’re not there then epic fail and all that. Now here’s the real kicker: Average waiting times run around 3 hours. Even more suspicious is the wine tasting room next door where they allow patrons to wait and drink overpriced drinks.

    In the final analysis I think I can rationalize waiting the three hours to give the place a try. From what I remember the food was pretty good, maybe even under some circumstances excellent. However that is the extent of my willingness to wait that long — only to give it an initial try. I never returned to said restaurant ever again. Not because the food and service isn’t good but it’s just not worth waiting three hours.

  130. paw says:

    If I’ve got a table booked for a certain time then I expect to be served within a few minutes. As for places that don’t take reservations, why bother?

  131. KMFDM781 says:

    I was with some friends on a Saturday night and had stopped to eat at Cheeseburger In Paradise. It was beautiful outside, so we asked the greeter about the patio…she told us it was first come, first served. We waited about 20 minutes for a table on the patio to finally open up.
    Shortly after we ordered our drinks, the manager comes outside to our table with a small group of people in tow….he tells us that these people had called ahead for patio seating and that we needed to find another table because we were at the one saved for them. After a heated exchange with the manager where I brought up that CIP does not do reservations, we were still told to move and wait for another to open up. I told him where he can shove what and how and we left, never to return.
    A call and email to corporate offices did nothing and I will never return.

  132. HenryES says:

    20 minutes is usually my threshold of pain; it depends on whether there are alternatives close by.

  133. Worsel says:

    I’ve waited an hour to get into Melt in Cleveland, then there was a forty-five minute wait for sandwiches, which I waited because the food is so good.

  134. bananaboat says:

    10 – 15 minutes tops. If a crowd is waiting, I just go somewhere else. It’s just food and someplace else usually has something similar without waiting for the atmosphere (noise).

  135. muzicman82 says:

    For me, it depends on the restaurant, location, size of my party, and how that restaurant handles the wait. I would also consider my schedule, how hungry we are, the day of the week, and time of the meal. I wouldn’t wait longer than 90 minutes under any circumstances. I think 20-30 minutes is acceptable. Longer than 30 is only acceptable if they stick with their word.

  136. Levk says:

    5 mins at most, if its more then 5 mins i will leave and go elsewhere not all restaurants will be packed

  137. lens42 says:

    I wouldn’t do it now, but in my early 20s in Boston, we wouldn’t think twice about waiting 2 hours for the No Name Fish House, or for Hilltop Steakhouse. But the waiting lines were almost parties at those places. Time went by pretty fast, and then the food was great and pretty cheap.

  138. parv says:

    I cannot wait more than half hour in any case. (If I would have to wait longer, I would just as well (do grocery shopping if needed and) cook at home.) Else, I won’t be enojying the dining.

  139. aj says:

    I won’t wait at all.

  140. wolf says:

    Never If there is a line I will leave. this is just a lot of bull. Stand in line to pay for overpriced merchandise or food is stupid.

  141. MacBenah says:

    Fifteen or Twenty minutes, no more. And only that long because I’ve already gone to the trouble of finding a parking spot.

  142. MacBenah says:

    Fifteen or Twenty minutes, no more. INSIDE on a seat. Only that long because I’ve already gone to the trouble of finding a parking spot. There are a thousand places to eat – not one of them is worth standing outside for.

  143. gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

    I work odd hours at times and don’t think eating before your hungry is normal so I go nowhere I have to wait.

  144. cromartie says:

    You might possibly get me to wait 30 minutes if I’m in a good mood, or my wife is insistent that we eat at that particular place.

    Otherwise, I make it a point to eat during off peak times (usually after 8 p.m. when I travel or mid afternoon when I don’t), and I do this specifically to avoid having to wait.

    If you want my money, perhaps you should have a place for me to sit when I arrive (or provide some sort of methodology by which this is possible, such as reservations or call ahead seating). Otherwise, I’ll find another restaurant that will.

  145. SphinxRB says:

    30 minutes, no food is that good, sorry.

  146. mandy_Reeves says:

    cheese cake factory and pf changs at the mall(I’m a classy broad, what can I say?) are usually 45 minute wait…on a weeknight. I just cruise through the borders sandwiched in between the two eateries while keeping an eye on my little buzzy thing.