Restaurant Closing Time Debate

closing time

closing time

Some days I have no idea what I am going to blog about which is pretty evident nine times out of ten. Honestly, I am aware that this blog is basically about five different topics over and over again, so let’s rehash another one right now: closing times at restaurants. When I ever-so-innocently posted the above photo onto my Facebook page I had no idea that it would create such hostility. ( I totally did and that’s why I posted it.)

Simply stated, I feel that if a restaurant closes at 10:00 and a customer chooses to come in at 9:55, there is a very good chance that the staff is going to be disappointed. I didn’t say the staff would escort you out or that they would rub their genitals against your bread before placing it at your table, I just said they would probably hate your ass face. Would they tell you they hate your ass face? Of course not. They would smile right at your ass face and give your ass face the service they need to give, albeit a little mores brisk than usual. Yes, the restaurant is open until 10:00 and I understand that we won’t be walking out the door at 10:01. However, no server wants to see a table of four meander in and sit down five minutes before closing time and then chit chat for twenty fucking minutes before even cracking the menu open. Some people use the argument that “You’re open until 10:00 and I got here just in time.” Therefore, I can use the argument, “It’s 10:01 and we are closed now so I am going to start mopping, vacuuming and blowing out candles even though you haven’t even gotten your beverages yet.” That’s a fair trade, right? I mean, we’re closed now so you don’t mind if I roll this bucket of bleach water over here and scrub that booth next to you, do you?

The Facebook page generated some pretty harsh comments. I always love when that happens because I have no life and it gives me something to read all day.

Thomas says: I’m sorry I don’t give a crap if I come in at 9:55. You want to work as a god damn waiter/waitress get with the program, it’s a work hazard (means it comes with the job)… You don’t like it, go find a new job but you will probably bitch about something else at that job too. Self entitled cry babies.

You’re right, Thomas, it is a work hazard. In fact, I think I deal with more dicks and assholes than a gay porn star. You are also right when you say that if I found a new job, I would probably bitch about something else. It’s what people do, Thomas; they complain about their jobs. No one has a job that is perfect. I have heard movie stars complain in interviews that their hours are so long and so hard. They make millions of dollars and they still complain. It’s human nature. Oh, and also, it’s called Bitchy Waiter so get the fuck over it.

Thomas goes on to say: And whose keeping a whole staff? You are keeping the people who serve you and cool your food ain’t 10 servers waiting for me to finish my food just the one, whose going to get a nice tip

Yeah, that sentence barely makes sense, so I can’t respond. Go eat a dick.

Heather says: Disagree. I own a restaurant and if dinner runs until 9:30, come in at 9:30. In fact, if we are still cooking orders, come in at 9:35-9:40. We very often go past our dinner hour.

Heather, that’s great, but what is the point of a closing time if you tell customers to come in whenever they feel like it? Today they come in ten minutes after closing and then tomorrow they’ll come in twenty minutes after closing. Where does it end? And do your servers like you or do they just pretend to?

Michael says: Holy fuck! I’m a poker dealer. Do you know how many times I’ve had to pull a 16 hr shift bc ppl were still playing? Or how about oilfield workers who work 24 hrs straight when the well is down?

I find it hard to believe, Michael, that you have ever dealt poker from 10:00 in the morning until 2:00 AM. Are you the only poker dealer in your town? Do you not have shift changes? As for oilfield workers who work 24 hours straight, I’m pretty sure they are making a little more than $2.13 an hour. A waiter can get stuck with a late table for an extra hour or longer then get no tip making that extra time they worked absolutely useless.

My favorite comment comes from John who says: Perhaps a sign that says “we don’t close till 10, but YOU BETTER NOT COME IN AFTER 9:30.”

John, if you tell me where I can get that sign and then tell me of a restaurant owner who will let me put it on the door, that is where I want to work!

So, what are your thoughts on this? I expect some lively discussion in the comments section below. If a restaurant closes at 10:00, what is the latest time that you feel comfortable going in?


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99 thoughts on “Restaurant Closing Time Debate

  1. Renae Wagner

    Must be a part of country or city/rural thing. In rural areas and South think they expect you to sit by 1/2 hr before closing. Googling this shows in West USA & cities people expect to work hour or so post closing. In NE we always let people in and served until close. It was pretty much a given, but then the work ethic is way more conscientious and hardworking than what I have experienced across the board than kn the South where people really don’t seem to take any pride in their work, but I guess that’s what right to work states that pay gross embarrassing minimum wages gets you.

  2. Dylan

    I eat out often. I like to be able to go back to the restaurant again and again. And I almost always make reservations. If dinner takes 2-3 hours, then I need to be in 2-3 hours prior to closing. Simple.

    I am in awe of people in the food service and hotel industry. They work hard, smile at everyone, and make a really tough job look really easy. So I hope I don’t overstay my welcome…. and if I do, I hope my extra cash tip, smile, and a nice note on the receipt will make it worth it.

    Thank you always for the awesome food and excellent service to all the professionals out there.

    Bitchy Waiter…I found your blog after I read your book. As a regular of restaurants I had tears of laughter reading your witty rejoinders. Nicely done.

  3. Kaos

    I know I’ve seen signs that say some version of: “We close at 10, orders taken until 9:30″ or some such type wording. IOW we *close and lock the doors* at 10:00 but we won’t actually cook brand new meals unless you order by 9:30 …but the bar is still open for drinks until 10:00.”

    Oh and not only one time ever at only one place ever. I’ve seen them in different places over the years, so I know it can be done. Seriously people if you just *have to have* that CFS at 10:00…go to Denny’s.

  4. Roselynn

    I think the best solution is have add a cutoff time for seating. Say, if you intend to close at 9, don’t allow seating after 8:30. Make it really clear on your website or sign or what have you, so no idiots or assholes can misinterpret and fuck with your schedule.

  5. Nicole

    I work in a steak house. And I think that when the closing time says 10, that goes for the kitchen. The restaurant closes at 10; therefore have your order in by 10. The kitchen has worked their ass off all day or all night and they have a bigger mess to clean up. So don’t come strolling in at 9:55 thinking it’s okay because “you made it just in time.” No that order better be “just in time.” How about we come to your place of business? Work retail? Okay well let me mess up all the Jean tables, fixtures, and fitting rooms because I’ve been working all day and I’m last minute and I wanna go downtown but I have nothing to wear. It’s just called respect. Not rocket science.

  6. Jules

    As a waitress, I definitely side with you, BW. It is extremely annoying when customers show up just a few minutes before closing. I do, however, think that the closing hours are for when customers can come in, or else the doors would be locked half an hour before close. That’s not to say though that customers should come in at 10:58 and decide to have a 3 course meal and take their dear sweet time. If you are gonna come in that late, you better be placing a to-go order, so as not to keep everyone who works there from their families and obligations. I used to work at TGI Fridays on the dining side, so even though the place was open until 2 am, the dining side closed at 11 or 12, depending on the day and how busy it was. Because of this, though, we constantly had people coming to eat on the dining side at 11:58 and it didn’t help that 98% of the clientele there have no idea how to tip. As annoying as it was, though, I got used to it, as that’s just how it rolls at TGI Fridays. Plus, the side work took so freaking long to do, I wasn’t getting out until 1-3 am most days anyways. Luckily the place I work now is a LOT better about the late night assholes. It just rarely ever happens, thank god. And the side work is split a lot more evenly among all the servers, AND we don’t have to roll silverware which helps a shit ton.

  7. Swany

    I live in a small town with very few choices and mostly locally owned restaurants that are sporadic at best when it comes to hours. If you want everyone out, the place cleaned, and doors locked at 10, then I agree: post a final seating time. The only places in our area where people have to be gone, out, finished at a certain time are bars. I’ve been in the business for 20 years, and yes, I’ve been the person flying in last minute because there’s no where else to go and I’m hungry and want a drink! No way would I feel guilty going in less than 45 minutes (!) before closing! Then again, I always eat at the bar. I get it, I have felt the pain over and over, but don’t say you’re open till a certain time and then be bitter when people actually hold you to it.

  8. Dee

    Our kitchen typically closes 10-15 minutes before actual closing time, so if someone walks in before close they can order food and finish before we really have to send them out. I don’t mind as long as they leave when we are supposed to be closed. Usually people are understanding about it. The only thing that pisses me off is when a table wants to hang out until close and doesn’t upfront request a closing server.

  9. Mike

    I have a small diner that is open from 7 am to 9 pm everyday. We can generally get the food out in 5-10 minutes. My policy is seating until 845. After that carryout only, sandwiches only. If you are still seated at 9 pm, you can guarantee we will be cleaning around you. The grill is shut off at 9 pm.

  10. Amanda B.

    I work at a store that closes at 8 pm. We have people that come in at 7:58 grab a cart and proceed to shop for an hour. Awesome! I loathe these people. I also have a life and family waiting at home for me. It’s rude to think the world revolves around you. On my way home if I need something and a store is closing I chose to go to another store so I’m not one of those assholes.

  11. Laura

    I’m from the UK and have worked tables in Spain and we had the policy that the kitchen closes at a certain time so if you walk in at 5 to close you better know what you want right now or you’re not eating here tonight. If you want to arrive on time and stay late we can’t complain, that’s our jobs as waiting staff but the kitchen staff have a lot of cleaning to do and would have already started before you walked in so coming in late or at the last minute doesn’t just delay your server it delays at least 3 other people, and the profit from your 2 top is not worth the extra money it will cost the business to pay them all. #justsaying #waitressforlife #businessisbusiness

  12. Kiersten

    I manage a restaurant that is corporate and we are open until 11 Fridays and Saturdays. I remember one night, after the holidays, we were dead. We didn’t have a table for over an hour before closing. Everything was cleaned, kitchen basically closed. Just needed to turn off the grill and ovens. I sent most of the kitchen staff home already. At 10:54 a 4 top walks in and I made the decision to tell them we are closed. Sure enough, the next day those shits emailed corporate complaining we closed early. I got a talking too about policy and that I needed to call them and apologize along with sending them a gift card for therfore heir next visit. Oh and the best is when they complain about the labor costs being too high. Going corporate socks.

  13. Lauren

    The restaurant I work at actually has a sign that says, “Last call for orders is 8:45pm,” and we close at 9pm…it’s the best!!

  14. Crysta Dietz

    HOLD ON EVERYONE!! first off if i work a closing shift i usually tell them whoops takeout only at 10 to but i work at a bar and my bosses biggesst worry is probably about anyone touching his drink. (Which obviously has nothing to do with closing times because he could give a shit less dispite saying he does) anyways: if i walk into Wal-mart/ target/ or rite aid at 15 to what do they do???? Hey were CLOSING. U can grab ur last minute shit but if u cant figgure out ur shade of lipstick in the alloted time then get the fuck out u leave with nothing. So why do people think its diffrent for the restaurant? ?? Yea if u come in at 10 to but order nachos and cash out with me at 5 after im pleasant as can be. But running in the door at ANYTIME CLOSE TO CLOSING AND EXPECTING A RESTAURANT TO GIVE UR DUMB ASS THE SERIVCE U WOULD HAVE GOT 2 HRS EARLIER IS FUCKING STUPID. A RESTAURANT IS NOT A FERRY “WHOAH I MADE IT NOW TAKE ME ON THE 40MIN RIDE”?!?!?!? Fuck off.

  15. Jenni R.

    I work at a popular, well known chain restaurant and I am a full time closer. We frequently get a late night pop beginning at 9:30, and its usually over by 10:30. It never fails that we will get late night stragglers in at 5 to 10 minutes till close. Last Sunday we got a lovely 40 top in at 20 minutes till close…yes, 40. Did they have the common courtesy to call ahead? Well hell no, courtesy is a past ideology. At the time there were two servers still on, myself and my partner. We had to beg 2 other servers to come back on after they had been cut because our section was full, had to reopen a closed section, and keep the entire kitchen staff on…needless to say none of us got out of there till after 1am. We closed at 11:30…the group of the 40 that I waited on said “we are sorry for keeping you here so late. You didn’t have anything important to get to did you?” I wanted to say “don’t insult me with your patronizing fake apology” but I didn’t, I smiled and said “oh why of course not. My kids aren’t as important as your bottomless chips and salsa”
    They laughed, as they thought I was joking. Why on earth would a single mother of two be out on a Sunday night waiting tables?
    With all that said, closing times are there for a Reason. And its not so you and 39 of your closest friends can come invade a restaurant and keep 50% of our staff there 2 hours after closing. If I wanted to work at an establishment that stayed open 24 hours I’d go work at Waffle House.
    And don’t say to me “but that’s more money in your pocket! Why are you complaining?”
    Because I just worked a 12, now 14 hour shift with no breaks, I have had nothing to eat in the last 14 hours AND god dammit I just want to go the fuck home so I can gather just the tiniest bit of sanity so I can come back happy and chipper and do it all again tomorrow.

    End. Rant.

  16. Sarah

    I prefer the final seating rule, but more often than not, I volunteer to take the last table. I have consistently increased my take for the evening by a minimum of 50% by doing so. Yes, I still feel the guest is a twatsicle. Yes I ask the kitchen to limit their selections, and yes I tip out much SA and let them go home. BUT… by doing this I have figured it increases my annual income by $3000 easy. That’s a vacation. And since I work where it is seasonal and ask to be removed from the schedule for the entire month of September every year, I simply think about the benefits. Yes they are still fuck face as shat, but I may as well make it work for me.

  17. Darcy

    If I owned a restaurant, I would not post my “business hours” I would post “seating hours”. So if my restaurant was open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm I would post a sign saying… “Guest are seated from 6:00am to 9:30pm….”

  18. lauren

    I would never go into a restaurant within 40 minutes of them closing (as I think 40 minutes is an appropriate time to eat a meal). However I will be OK with a customer if they come in at least 20 minutes before close. (I did not day happy, I said ok).
    I had a table come in at 9:58 when my restaurant closes at 10. I Encouraged Them To Sit At A Bar Table Because The Bar Will stay open later. They refused and insisted in sitting in the dining room, bought a $8 appetizer and sat there for an extra hour an a half with no tip. I was sooo mad because I was literally done with everything and about to walk out the door when they came in.

  19. Renee

    I always try to avoid going to a restaurant within an hour of closing. Yes, they close at (say) 10. Ok, the kitchen stays open til 10. I still have enough respect for the staff to not make them serve me as a customer past closing.

    If (and it’s a rare “if”) I show up within that hour, I make sure I eat my food quickly and get out before they close.

    Back to the kitchen cooking until closing: if I were a restaurant owner, kitchen would close 30 minutes prior to the restaurant closing. No exceptions. There would be signage, on the door, the menu, Facebook, etc. At the hour of closing, I (or a manager) would politely go around and inform customers that we were closed. I would not prevent my staff from performing closing duties either. Chairs up, mop, etc. Don’t make it easy for these ride, selfish, entitled lingerers to be comfortable…

  20. tamy

    My workplace is head throbbingly lenient with customers walking in and out.. we close at 10pm and I’ve served customers food hot from the kitchen at they way until 11 pm. The boss makes all of us take whatever customer walks in, leaving the customer with the idea that they can stay until when freaking ever! Listen bud, even if the sign says closed at 10 ,we clean at 9:30 and we wanna leave by 10:20. So if you waltz in at 9:55 and dine in, you are effectively screwing all of us in the ass because of a certain boss and their rules. Do us a favor. Most restaurants offer carryout. Please do carryout. You can see the relief on our faces when you say that word. I work 2 consecutive shifts or a full 11 hr and the kitchen staff are the same. Take pity man.

  21. Jamie

    A large majority of restaurant workers work from open to close so no they aren’t happy when people roll up right before closing. If you’ve never worked in the business STFU. It sucks.

  22. Diedre Geissel

    My rule of thumb on going to other restaurants is if it’s an hour before closing, I will go in and eat… if it’s 30 minutes or less before closing, I’ll order something to go. As far as my establishment, it’s a little different… the cafe is open for breakfast & lunch 7am-2pm daily, but the adjoining bar is open until 2am. Our cafe staff is really good when bar patrons order after 2pm; if the grill is still on, they’ll take the order and serve it. If the grill is off and the deep fryer is still on, the bar patron is welcome to order something that can be cooked in it. You don’t want to put your employees in the position of working late every day, but if at all possible, you need to accommodate your customers. It works good for us!

  23. jason

    If someone comes in late then at least tip appropriately or go to a place known for staying open. Don’t come in late, keep me there and tip like some ignorant trash like we have in Alabama at the Summit.Only pure trash comes in at close and tips bad like this fat balding redneck and his Asian prostitute just did to me. Karmas a bitch scum trash.Come in again and see what happens to your food and wine.

  24. I Hate People

    I guess the argument that people make about coming in anytime before closing means that if I come in 1 minute before closing, I can stay for 10 hours if I want? HELL NO! We close at 10pm, you get out by 10pm.

    I hate the people that don’t get that. People come in 5 minutes before and always say – ‘we’ll be really quick’ and they end up taking 2 hours… how inconsiderate.

    People have families/friends/a life and need to be able to plan to leave on time. Leave BEFORE we close all you inconsiderate jerks! Everyone else that gets it – I love you!

  25. Crystal

    I was a server for years and I know the majority of people see it as ‘If they close at 10 I should be able to go in 5 minutes before close and still be served’ not to mention those who think ‘If they close at 10 I should be able to go in at 9:59 and still be served’ all of course with the same service and lingering right of someone going in at noon.

    Personally though when I go out to eat, if the place closes at 10 then I need to have my ass out the door no later than 10. That is just the way I see it. Restaurant, bookstore, gadget store, doesn’t matter. As a customer I don’t stay past closing time.

  26. Brandy

    I feel bad I did this, but it was 45 minutes until they closed. That’s still cutting it close to me in my opinion. I hate holding up staff (which we inadvertently did because I couldn’t quite figure out how to pay at the Ipad device thing some days my brain doesn’t work). They were very nice about the whole thing and I still felt bad. This is one of those new restaurants were they don’t exactly have wait staff but more like glorified food runners. That may sound mean but you do almost everything through an Ipad. Maybe it’s just an LA thing. I tipped my 20% (I couldn’t figure out how to give more) and tried to get out as quickly as I could. I respect closing times because if nothing else 3 years of fast food service taught me it sucks to have to wait on someone 2 minutes before they close (and all I had to do was give them chicken.)

  27. DrivingPeace

    I work at a neighborhood grocery store that closes at 11PM. We lock the door at 10:59PM and won’t let anyone in after that. When people complain, we tell them that, instead of coming here to buy cigarettes, they should go to Target at 10:59PM and buy a watch.

    1. Christy B.

      @Driving Peace, why not change the closing time to 10:59pm then? If a business claims to be open until 11pm, then be open. As a consumer, that’s just my opinion and of course assuming that the employees are being paid for their time.

      1. Ex bitchy waitress

        @christy b. So if every one should just change their closing time to 9:59 if a customer then comes in at 9:58 wouldnt you agree that they should leave at 9:fucking59? Or perhaps you could tell us what is the appropriate amount of time its ok to lingure in an establishment after theyve closed? You are one of the ignorant selfish people that the rest of us on this blog absolutly hate . you ma’am are the ass face!

        1. Theking

          You’re a typical idiot. If a store closes at 11 that means it closes at 11 for the customer, not the workers or owner. How late you stay working after the doors are closed is up to your store policy. Store hours are supposed to be for the customers not the workers!

          As for every other dummy on this message board the state of our country is going down the tubes because it’s plainly obvious no one understands a restaurant hours is not when a business closes only when it closes for the customer. If you don’t like customers coming in the last minute then have a kitchen closing time policy like every other professional business out there do not blame the customer they are right for assuming you are open till the last minute posted!

  28. PCC

    How difficult can it be to post a “last orders” or “last seating” time, along with a “We close at 10 p.m.” sign? I understand that the hated capitalist who owns the restaurant may not welcome the idea, but it might be more fair and/or productive for the wait staff to have the balls to take up the issue with the owner rather than dumping on the customers.

  29. Rob G

    I worked at a 24 hour Country Kitchen in Missouri that did well about 3 mil a year in business because it was the only 24 hour restaurant in town at the time. No worries about closing time or lingerers there. And the tips after the bar shift and then the servers shift from other places were phenomenal. It has been well over 20 years since I worked there I don’t miss the sore feet and cheesy aprons but I still remember it as a righteous gig.

  30. Sally

    Sometimes I come on here just to remember how lucky I am! Our kitchen closes at 10. The end. If you come in at 9:55 we tell you that you have 5 minutes to order. And then once you’re done eating (even if you’re still drinking) we ask to close up with you, and the bartender will be more than happy to help you with any more drinks.

    Seriously. Once the kitchen boys call it we’re done. No exceptions.

    (ok.. there was one exception once… for cheese sticks at 10:01. The kitchen manager was in a good mood that day.)

  31. KB

    I just don’t understand how people can NOT CARE. Like literally you are the only 2 people in this entire restaurant, it is 11:30, and you were clearly told when you walked in that we close at 10. Just not a damn care in the world!!! You 2 people are all that is keeping me from going home/going out right now. And I am making NO MONEY for it. Go sit in your damn cars or in the parking lot or in a bar and talk!!! When you come in 15 minutes or less before closing, EVERYONE HATES YOU. The manager, the cooks, the dishwasher, the bartender, and the servers all say DAMN THEM! Isn’t that embarrassing??? I just don’t understand. I care way too much about being a people pleaser.

  32. valerie

    If you close at 10, then I take that to mean that the door is closed and locked at 10. You can’t get doctor appointments for 4:55 when they close at 5, so why should we expect anything more from restaraunts? Closed means closed, so people shouldn’t show up if they don’t expect to be done & gone by closing time. I don’t understand why people have an issue with this. It’s a matter of respect.

  33. Amber

    In our restaurant the last table keeps the server, cook(s), bartender (who does cash outs), 2 managers and a retail associate who has to stay on the clock for the last person to leave because our shop is downstairs while our restaurant is upstairs.

    So yes, if you’re THAT party, we hate you ass face and the entire gesture says so much more about your character than you’ll ever know.

  34. Tom Stevenson

    As a server, few things make ME more angry than being cut early and then hearing the closers bitch because someone came in to eat. If the restaurant closes at 10, you weren’t leaving at 10:05 anyway. If they’re your only table, then you’ll get most of your closing duties done while they’re eating. If they eat for 90 minutes, they’re probably only keeping you 30 minutes late. Even if their check is only 50 bucks, that works out to $20 an hour for the extra time.

    If you can’t deal with that, I’ll close for you.

    1. we$lie

      $20 an hour for a $50 tab… I’d like to consistently get a 40% tip…. If a table comes in right before closing, then stays 90 minutes, how is that only 30 mintues extra? That seems it’s at the minimum 75 minutes longer…

    2. Christy B.

      @Tom, what you convey is what it “seems” like I’m being told the times that I have arrived near closing time!

  35. Atli Steinn Gudmundsson

    I have to agree with you on this one, I would definitely not feel right about sitting down in a restaurant less than half an hour before closing time for a three course meal with red wine. Never tried it actually, most of my restaurant visits are timed around normal lunch/dinner hours, but of course I know that I would be suffering the curse of the angry chef/bitchy waiter/not-very-understanding-cleaning-staff if I did, resulting in rotten attitude or crappy food quality. Restaurant or not, working people expecting to be finishing their day and dragging their sore and tired asses home to their spouses or whatever do not like any surprises prone to change those plans, period.

    I don’t have a clue how this works over there in the States but don’t you guys get paid if you have to put in an extra hour? Is it then tips or nothing? And where did you come up with those $2,13 an hour? I hope nobody in the whole US of A over 13 years old is working for that kind of wages. Anyways, best regards from me and thanks for making my day with the blog (feel free to visit mine if you can decipher Icelandic). -Atli

    1. Denise in WI

      Atli, it varies state by state, but yes, the minimum wage for tipped employees in most states is only $2.13/hour, as it is thought that with tips added in, it will bring the server up to the standard federal minimum wage (which is a paltry $7.25/hour). The last restaurant I worked at had very strict tip reporting policies, so my paychecks were always NEGATIVE. It was so demoralizing being handed a paycheck every other Friday that read “MINUS $75”, etc. This was because the $2.13 an hour wasn’t enough to cover the taxes on the tips I made. This also meant that I owed money to the IRS each April, too.

      1. Atli Steinn Gudmundsson

        **Speechless**. And people just go on with their lives, paying rent/mortgage and buying groceries with a paycheck in minus?? I really thought employees in Iceland were having a lousy day after the banking collapse but your explanation beats everything. Interesting to know nevertheless, thank you.

        1. we$lie

          Atli, that’s why servers in the US bitch so much about bad tips, no tips, etc. Yes, we get an hourly wage of $2.13, but as the previous commenter explained, we usually never receive a nickle of that… and if we do, it means we haven’t been getting enough $$ in tips. So for people that come in right before closing, then leave a poor or no tip, it costs the SERVER money to wait on them! We have to split our tips with the bartender, busboys, even the restaurant we work for, usually based on how much we sold… not how much we made in tips. People keep serving because we can make good money when we have people coming and going and turning tables quickly. But yes, it’s pretty pitiful.

    2. Rainbow

      Yes in texas the wage for servers is 2.20 to 2.30 per hour. I think its bullshit. What if they get no tips i dont agree with this period. Its not right in my opinion. Minimum wage should be exactly that. Its just ridiculous

  36. Matthew Tyler

    Shifts at my restaurant are really short. The closer comes in at 6 and the kitchen closes at 10:30. So when I close, I just expect to not be leaving until 11 or 11:30. That’s STILL a short shift and if I have no tables at 10:30, then bonus.
    Do I bitch when a table comes in at 10:25, and/or sits long after they’re done eating? ABSOLUTELY. But at the end of the night, as long as they tip me well, I know I really don’t have much to complain about.

  37. Cynthia Shepherd

    In celebration of my first comment on this site I have this to say: if something closes at 10pm and it will take me 45min to an hour there, I’d best be in the seat by 9pm. If I were told 5 min before the end of shift that I had to work another hour, I would be livid. Therefore would not do it to someone else.

  38. Shelly

    When I was working, as a librarian, I felt the same way about people who showed up a few minutes before closing, approached the reference desk, and would hand me a 10-page booklist from which they needed at least 5 books. Or who wanted an hour computer appointment (we shut the public PCs down 15 mins to closing). Or my favorite, the woman who was already in the library, but would approach the circulation desk with 30 or 40 books to check out (before we were computerized) at closing. The staff hated her with a passion. It took me months to convince her to start checking books out 15 minutes to closing so we could get out of there, because we did not get overtime pay. For some people, schedules are merely suggestions, easily ignored. They’re usually the people who also show up 20 minutes after a movie starts so they can disturb people wile finding a seat.

    1. we$lie

      This is a really good example about how it’s not just the food service industry… It’s any company that involves providing a service to people period! Please your heart, I would have had a hard time dealing with those people… especially in a library where everyone is as sweet as can be

    2. Christy B.

      @Shelly, I so disagree. If a company/agency doesn’t want people coming in at 10pm because they turn off the computers at 9:45pm, then close at 9:45pm.

      That being said, those same companies/agencies should obviously be compensating their employees for time beyond closing time (i.e. pay people for their actual time worked!).

      1. Jules

        I work at a restaurant, and if you are opening the store before store hours, they pay you minimum wage until the doors open. It’s a great system, but I really think they should do the same for if you’re closing. On a busy night you can easily be there for an hour to an hour and a half after close taking care of the late night assholes and finishing closing work. I guess they haven’t done so because I could easily see people milking it and staying way after hours for the extra $ on their paycheck. But a gal can dream right?

  39. Jas

    We have it pretty easy at our place. Kitchen closes an hour before the restaurant closes and we start vacuuming, mopping and cleaning around half hour before closing. We still get some last minute stragglers for cake and coffee but for the most part the vacuum cleaner drives everyone out and we can lock the doors bang on closing time!
    Personally, I would never go for a full meal at a restaurant less than an hour before close. I just can’t relax when all the staff obviously want to pack up and leave.

  40. sally

    A half hour before close is the cut off for me. But if the place were empty I would think twice even about that. On the other hand, if the place were still pretty busy at a quarter til I might go in and order something easy like soup & salad and not linger, but only if I were starving. And I’d leave at least 20% as usual, probably more.

  41. Anon

    Personally I feel uncomfortable going in less than thirty minutes before close, and even then I prefer an hour if its more than just two of us or I think we will take a long time. If I owned a restaurant, though, I would definitely either put up a “last call” time on the sign OR do what I do with my chronically late friends: tell them to show up an hour before I really expect them to show up. In other words, my staff would know we REALLY closed at ten, but we would say nine so that way we avoid this kind of annoyance as much as possible. And hey, if the restaurant was empty, maybe they could leave early some nights like a bonus instead of being punished for the one late table.

  42. Sterling

    I paid for college working behind the bar and then managed a restaurant for a while when I first got out of school. I have since moved into another field and it has allowed me to be a customer at some very nice places, but I have never forgotten what “service” was like. To that end, what I have noticed is that there are only 2 types of customers — the ones that appreciate and respect those providing the service, or the ones who think that because they are paying 30 dollars for an entree, or 10 dollars for a drink that they should be treated like the f-ing Sultan of Brunei, and that “waiter” or “waitress” actually means personal sh-t-eating troll. I have seen the second kind both at 5-star restaurants, and a local Friday’s, so it’s not just about the price. Some people apparently spend their whole lives dreaming of being able to treat someone else like crap so that they might feel important, and no amount of signage or suggestions will ever change that imho.

  43. Kristi

    We close at 10 on weekdays and 11 on weekends. There is ALWAYS at least one table that comes in at 5 till close. And for some reason I always get the pleasure of serving them. I despise them for it. I’m one of those servers who work hard to get their side work done before close so that when we close I can GO HOME. Last night, I got a table at TWO MINUTES UNTIL CLOSE. Like what…the fuck?! As I was discussing with my manager last night..who would trust someone with their food after going in a restaurant at 2 till close?! So even though I was done with everything and ready to go, I had to stay over an hour later to serve these two ungrateful little pricks. They took their sweet time eating and then did not tip me even a fucking dollar. Now mind you even though I was pissed beyond belief that I had to serve them, I still gave them exceptional service with a huge fake ass smile. They never needed anything and never received any sour attitude towards them what so ever. So why they chose to not tip is only because they were TRASH. I wanted to punch them both in the mouth after realizing they were stiffing me, but instead I forced that same fake ass smile and told them to have an excellent night and to be safe going home. So I got to stay over an hour past close and instead of making any money, I had to PAY out of my pocket for them to eat(it made my tip out more, and of course I paid taxes on it as well).

    I personally would NEVER go into a restaurant to sit down and eat unless I had 45 minutes to an hour before they closed. And that’s only because my husband and I eat very quickly and almost never need anything. Otherwise I’d say well over an hour before close. And of course, a 25-30% tip is also a must if I’m going to go in and eat that near to closing. I wish everyone felt the same!!!

    1. Christy B.

      @Kristi – I’m curious, if all the circumstances were exactly the same, let’s say the bill was $40, what would be a tip that you would consider “good” for the circumstances?

      I’m curious because I have gone into restaurants close to closing and been (seemingly) happily ushered in, sometimes with the caveat that “if you don’t mind us cleaning and you can place your order in the next xx minutes, stay as long as you want!”

      My curiosity stems from wanting to make sure that, as the consumer, I’m doing the right thing

      1. Kass

        Personally on $40 10 mins to close I say 10 but I don’t tip percent I go by people so there’s 4 people (me and my three brats ) that’s a dollar each and then a dollar for every drink that’s 3 and 3 because the person who tips seven can just as well leave ten. And the amount goes up for every time I feel like we’re being needy ass hats. Or if I really don’t want to pick up the mess my 1 year old made I’ll leave an extra five becAuse I ABHORE cleaning up after other people’s and that’s not my servers job description. Did I say that so it makes sense? Probably not lol

  44. Miss Merlot

    In the UK it’s enough to just to say that kitchen is closed from 9.30pm (or whatever time) even if the restaurant is open till 10pm etc, and then the stragglers don’t get a say in the matter if they want to eat that night….

    1. maxi

      Except that some corporate places test the staff to make sure this doesn’t happen! I worked for a big chain Italian and we could not lie about closing time as it might be an area manager or something checking up on us 🙁

      1. Missy

        Same thing with my job. We can tell them what time we close the kitchen but not allowed to turn ppl away even of its 1 minute til close. Mother fuckers send secret shoppers in on is too so u can never tell a customer no walking in the door.

  45. Beth

    I was the hostess at a very upscale restaurant in Manhattan, which closed at 10PM. When I first started, a couple came in at 9:55 and stayed until 1AM. And there literally was not a single other occupied table. The coat check girl was allowed to leave since they didn’t check their coats, but I had to stand there so that I could wish them a good night as they finally sauntered their selfish asses out the door. After that, I would tell any customer who came in after 9:35 that we had already stopped serving.

  46. Melissa

    10pm sounds like a blessing. Where I work we close at 2am. It’s not uncommon for people to staunter in at 130am order 3 of 4 drinks to beat last call an start ordering food 20 mins later. The expletives that fly around BOH when this happens would make any normal person feel horrible (if they heard them) we also have table squatters. I never in my life sat at a table after finishing dinner for 3 hours. Sheesh it’s NYC go find a park bench or something. Back on topic, it’s rude and inconsiderate to come in minutes before closing. The awkwardness of being the only person in a place if business should be enough of an turnoff for most normal people. 30 mins before closing is acceptable but not for a leisurely meal. It’s a eat and leave time.

    1. we$lie

      That’s just craziness! Where I live, the bars close at 2AM as well, people will order 3 or 4 drinks right before last call, but the bar will turn on the lights, turn off the music, and make everyone leave right when their clock says 2AM (even though they set them about 10 – 15 minutes fast…) – even if they still have 2 full drinks left, that they’ve already paid for. Sometimes you just gotta take control and throw people out haha

      1. Emily H

        I used to work at a bar in KY, where the liquor sales are HIGHLY regulated. We could not have drinks on the table past midnight, period. I loved it!!!Last call at fifteen ’til, and I will clear your table at 12 on the dot. I didn’t matter if two dozen people were still sitting.

        “EVERYBODY OUT!!!”

        (and the city cops had a habit of coming in around five after to make sure, that helped clear out the bitchers)

  47. we$lie

    And that guy Thomas? The one that said only his server and the cooks have to stay until he’s done? He’s forgetting about the manager and/or owner, and the fact that other servers probably have to stay to help mop and flip chairs….

    And that big tip he says he’s gonna leave? I guarantee you by big tip he means 17%. Pssh.

  48. we$lie

    My personal policy? I normally will never go somewhere and expect to be served if it’s within 30 minutes of closing. Even then I’ll ask if they are still serving and what time the kitchen closes. If we decide to stay, I make sure we are in and out in a reasonable time and expect the server to move us along quickly.

    I’m lucky enough to work at a restaurant that allows us to let customers know that the kitchen is closed if they come in 15 minutes before closing time. If they want to stay for some drinks that’s fine, but we aren’t serving food anymore. Thankfully that hardly ever happens. But if someone comes in late and camps at their table (and by camping I mean they are still there 30+ minutes after closing time), I have no problem sweeping, mopping, wiping tables, and flipping chairs around them. If they complain? Our response is “I’m sorry sir, but we closed at 10PM, I’m still cleaning up but I’ll let you know when we need to head out” and you have to say it with that southern girl charm and a big smile on your face :). I’m not trying to stay 1+ hours past close, making $2.13/hour, because they want to sit and chit-chat, and honestly the owner doesn’t either. There are a lot of bars around us that are still open long after we close. Like they say, “You don’t gotta go home, but you can’t stay here.”

    Most people are pretty considerate about closing times, but like a previous commenter said – the restaurant probably isn’t going to make enough money to stay open for those few people that roll in late every now and then.

  49. Scargosun

    There is no way I would walk into a restaurant five minutes before closing. Come to think about it, I would not walk into just about any place of business minutes before closing unless it was an emergency and I could be out of there in less than 5 minutes. I used to work in retail and I SWEAR people used to come in on purpose 5 min before closing as a power trip. It’s like they thought, “Oh they HAVE to stay open now that I am here.” I think people do that in restaurants as well.

  50. Jennifer

    Being a server I always hoped no one would come in last minute, and if they did I hoped that they weren’t lingerers and if they were hoped that they would at least tip well… So, I’d put on a smile and do a good job so at least my last hope might become reality. Personally, I wouldn’t go into a restaurant 5 minutes before close unless I was desperate and in that case might ask if I could even get my food to go, but that’s just me.

  51. chacha1

    I’m in favor of Last Seating policies for any restaurant with table service, and that includes cafes & diners. If hours and policies are posted, no reasonable customer can get bent about it.

    Of course we all know there are a lot of unreasonable customers. But there are plenty of 24-hour drive-throughs for those people. They are not going to starve.

    Personally we tend to be early-evening people, not late-night diners; but on one occasion I can remember we did get to a venue shortly before closing. There were several other people still at tables in the dining room. We asked the host if the kitchen was still open, they said yes; we ordered appetizers & desserts and got the hell out as fast as we could. We just wanted to eat, not to set up camp.

  52. Crystal W. (@EatDrinkClev)

    The only way I go into a restaurant right before closing is if I’m desperate and there’s nothing else around. Even then, I ask “what can we order that will come out fast,” eat and then get the hell out. No lingering, coffee and dessert BS. And we tip extra for being late too. I was a waitress for years and know how much it sucks.

  53. maxi

    Just last week we were winding down after a busy dinner shift. It was 10pm (the restaurant closes at 11pm every day) and in walked this American guy on his own. I offer him the various menus we have available and while he’s looking he asks if we serve until 11pm. I confirm that yes, we do serve food until 11 so he is in plenty of time for a table. His exact words were: “So if I come in at 10 to 11 I will still get served?” I’m not sure if I even managed to hide the look of horror that flashed across my face but I serenly replied: “That’s absolutely correct sire.” Seeminly satisfied he wanders off, my appalled look following him out the door…. and he comes back in at 10.50pm and orders steak…. gah!

    I did used to work in a corporate place that was meant to be open til 10 every night but had a great manager who would shut the kitchen when it go dead. Her justification was unless a table of 10 showed up we wouldn’t make the money to stay open.

    1. melissa in houston

      That guy is just a total douce with an inflated ego. He gets off to his feelings of superiority. Its a type of fetish, being completely dominant. He is crossy a line using unwilling participants to get his needs met. F@ckin’ creep needs to get a sex worker willing to indulge his fetish.

      Oh the sadness of how some people treat servers. Seen it all.

  54. Keith

    I will start this by saying I work as a server in a trendy corporate place that urges managers to let guests eat anytime even 1 minute before closing. We are in an town center mixed use environment. So we can get a lot of stragglers in at a later time. I will say that not one server wants this scenario, not even the table hogger types. That said I understand the business of self promotion and goodwill towards the locals, after all it is a business. Running a successful restaurant takes a lot of ass kissing on multiple levels. But I digress by stating I hate it when people come in and camp in an empty restaurant without a care, they are essentially saying my shallow and petty need to be waited on and fed outweighs the inconvenience we are imposing on you and your co workers who usually work doubles and can be on the floor all day and night, only to have to come back and do it again the following day. Like me going to a doctor and say, “no I want you to run this test, that test, examine this, and I am not going to leave until you give me everything I asked for.”. And I am going to pay you what I think is fair. That isn’t ever going to happen. It reminds me of the heckler on Seinfeld, he later went to her office and heckled her until she broke down and eventually lost her job, the problem we have in today’s world is that we all have blinders on, and never stop to think how our actions affect others.
    Use common sense people, if the place is empty explain to the server your situation, and don’t linger on, order your food and make some effort to eat upland go. Communicating that u understand that you are not going to keep them there very long is often a nice way to insure polite and prompt service while you get to eat your late dinner or after movie snack.

  55. Nate

    I think it comes down to common courtesy, which sadly doesn’t really exist anymore. If people actually worked at a coffee of retail of any kind they would realize the heck that many of these workers go through. I worked at a Grocery Store for 4 years, (Serving Coffee for 2) and I’ll tell ya what, after 7 hours of getting cussed at for things I have no control over (prices, location, parking you name it) at closing I just wanted to leave the store, as quick as humanly possible. It is for these reasons when I go into a store I never go in after 30 minutes to close, and I NEVER treat the employee badly for a store policy, if its that big of a deal I simply ask to talk to a manager because they are the ones who can actually make a difference not the High Schooler/College Student running the register in the few extra hours he has to make enough money to pay for necessities like gas.

    End Soap Box

    1. Cheryl Richardson

      I worked at a large national department store & if we were open till 10:00 p.m. & a customer walked in at 10:00 p.m. it was as though we just opened our doors. No registers were closed, no one left, until that customer was done AND happy!! Many nights we definetely wanted to leave, but we were trained & expected to be very professional. How many times does this really happen? Not enough to lose your job or get written up.

  56. Alison

    One time this guy gave me shit for putting dessert menus down while he finished his wife’s meal. His friends had been done eating for at least 10 minutes by that time and looked mortified that he wouldn’t let me box her leftovers.

    It was New Year’s Eve and the 4-top walked in without a reservation at 9:56pm, 4 min ’til closing. The guy got so mad that the friends he brought insisted on paying. He pulled me aside after the meal, hovered over me and told me how poor it was of me to put the desert menus down when everyone was not yet done eating. Then he had the balls to ask me if I had somewhere better to be, at 11:45pm, on New Year’s F-ing Eve. Yes, A@#hole, I do!

    He was lucky I offered them dessert at all. The kitchen staff was gone; I had to plate up desserts myself. People.

  57. Amber Kintz

    I once had someone come in after closing (‘cuz another guest was polite enough to hold the door for this party of 4) & order a well done steak. But first, I had to sort out his requests because we no longer served the kind of steak he ordered. Smh

  58. Andre

    I have seen restaurants that have a last seating, which I completely agree with. (ie. Doors close at 10pm and final seating is at 9:15-9:30)

    1. Ed

      At my restaurant we state we clise at 10pm and take last reservations at 8pm…..customers still sometimes sit way after 10pm

  59. Mari

    That lady who owns the restaurant is obviously a bitch who enjoys the profits of the business without doing the hard work that is required to be done AFTER you close. She’d probably say it’s just fine that you mop the floor with industrial cleaner so you can get out exactly at closing, and then bitch at you when customers complain about the smell.

    I say this because I worked in a coffee shop and was simultaneously expected to serve customers until closing AND clock out no later than 10 minutes after closing. All while keeping the health department cleanliness standards and making sure a huge percentage of AM duties were done as well.

    Because that’s realistic.

    Perhaps as a result of that experience, I try not to go into ANY food facility when there is less than an hour left for being open – if I do, it’s a coffee shop and I order something that doesn’t require cleaning an entire machine all over. If I DO go in when there is less than an hour, i certainly don’t bitch when I realize they are trying to get me out, or dawdle after I finish my food. I get my ass out ASAP, because I know that even without me (and my husband) coming in, they will be out half an hour after closing, EASY.

    Thank you.

    That is all.

    1. Joanna

      I’m working at a coffee shop too. We close at 5 Around 4:45 we tell ppl that we do take aways only. Our boss had a phone call with a complain. Now we have to serve until 5. Which means sometimes ppl are there still long after 5. And 2 ppl who are left for closing have to clean 2 floors, bathrooms, deli section stock everythin up and close tills. We have to be done by 6. We don’t have paid after that time…

    2. Zoe

      I love this comment. I also ran a coffee shop (now in a resturant) and even once I closed I would be cleaning still an hour later (I’m salaried) but customers still think because they can see me and everything is locked they try banging and opening the door for “I only want a coffee/Ice cream” and I just smiled and said sorry closed an hour ago. “But it’s still light out you could still make money” it’s 5pm I’ve been here since 6:30am and all I want is “just a coffee and some tea” it’s hard work in catering people expect the rules to be changed for them all the time.. Can’t you just do this or add that in for me…??? NO! I CAN’T! lol

      1. Sara

        Preach- I have a coffee/ice cream business in a tourist town, open 11 hours a day, seven days a week. So many people do that thing where they peer in the window, then make the little frowny face with their hands clasped under their chins— no way! I have an hour of cleaning to do. Get here in the other 11 eleven hours of the day that we’re open! Last year this old lady banged on the window until I opened it, then lectured me about how people were still out walking around so I should be open! Go start your own business then and you can have your rules.

    3. Steve Danielson

      The problem isn’t closing time. It’s scheduling. When I worked retail we closed at 9pm, but I was scheduled until 10pm. That way we can truly close by the hours on the window, and employees aren’t bitching about working after their shift ends… and leaves plenty of time to close down the store, clean and help any stray customers who waddled in close to closing time.

  60. Chelsea

    Look, nobody likes a jerk who keeps you at work late. I don’t care what your job is. If you have some asshole keep you there an extra hour or two after your ready to walk out the door, you’re going to bitch about it.

    Nobody likes their job 100% of the time. It’s a fucking job.

    End soapbox.


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