Advice for Late Night Diners

June 13, 2016

in Dining Hell Commentary

This is not a story, but rather an advisory for diners on dining minutes before closing time. The number one rule on going to a restaurant ten minutes before closing time is: “Don’t.” There are exceptions to this, say, the place is still completely packed, but for the most part, stay away.

However, having just one rule is impossible, and at times even the most straight-laced of us need to bend a few rules. Sometimes you just gotta get a late night bite, and Taco Bell isn’t going to cut it. These are my guidelines to being an “as pleasant as possible late night diner.”

1. Acknowledge the time. Whether it be a question – “When do you close?” Or a semi-apology, “Sorry, I know you’re closing soon, we will be quick.” We like knowing you know that it’s late. Nothing is more upsetting than a guest looking around at the empty dining room and saying, “Woah, slow tonight huh?” Or, “Oh, you close at 11? Great, we made it!”

2. Figure out your order immediately. Lots of times, even if the dining room still has people in it, the kitchen is waiting on the last table to order before packing up and cleaning. Cooks and dishwashers work long, hard hours. Let them finish their work. There will be plenty of time to chat between ordering and receiving your meals to catch up.

3. Pay your bill promptly. While yes, we want you to enjoy your dinner, we also want to be able to finish our work. Paying your bill might allow us the ability to finish side work, check out with a manager, possibly even LEAVE depending on restaurant policy.

4. If you haven’t been a table that joined late, but rather is just sitting late, be aware of your surroundings. Is the place empty? Leave. Would they likely be closed were you not here? Leave. And most importantly, tip extra if you’ve been a camper. I serve a group of ladies weekly that sit for 4 hours, spend less than $20 each in food, and yet tip $10-15 each. They understand that if they aren’t eating, they should be making up for what I could make on their table. I love those ladies. Be those ladies.

It’s not hard to be a good server. It’s even easier to be a good customer. Just be self-aware and have a good time.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

mrsjamiecbaker June 13, 2016 at 10:46 pm

THIS! I wish people were more considerate when coming in late or camping. $2.13 an hour isn't enough for me to sit around and wait for you to finish your meal and/or conversation.


Ali K June 18, 2016 at 12:23 am

Literally exactly why I wrote this. I read posts and comments on this site from customers who feel that they have this right to occupy your tables for hours, or sit beyond close with just waters and no plans to order another drink. Being aware of what's happening beyond your dining partner is key in being a good customer.
People should also know that servers tend to get free desserts, drinks or coupons for nice customers. Dicks? Not so much.

Original poster


theblonde June 14, 2016 at 12:23 am

My favorite is "oh I never do this, I used to be a server.."
and then keep us there a half hour after close and tip 10-15%.


Rachel June 26, 2016 at 7:21 pm

I got fired for refusing to serve customers after we had closed. Said customers were banging on the door at 9:10pm, we closed at 9:00pm. They wanted us to open the restaurant to serve them, our cook told me he wasn't going to cook any more meals as he was pretty much done with his cleanup. Our last customer had left about 1 hour ago, so I can see his point. Customers kept begging us to open up for them, cook told them no. So, these customers go down to the grocery store & complain that we refused them service. This gets back to the owners, cook told them that he wasn't going to open the kitchen up after almost finishing clean up, owners fired me & kept him as they really needed the cook (they went through cooks on a regular basis as the husband was a tyrant & most of them couldn't work with him). I was glad to be gone as they weren't the best people to work for & had a high turnover.


Teresa June 29, 2016 at 12:56 am

I got fired for expressing, very nicely I thought, That the restaurant had now been closed for 2 hours, and they had paid more than an hour prior. Really, all I said was, "So there's nothing else I can get for you? A glass of wine? No? Ummm, well…." and kind of gestured to the 5 people standing around waiting for them to leave. We closed at 9, it was 10:45, and they had had nothing but waters for over an hour. But boy, did they complain! Turns out one of them was the wife of the guy that owns the building (not the restaurant). I was called in by 8 am and canned. Screw those entitled, um, "ladies".


sexygal August 29, 2016 at 4:52 am

It's the restaurant's job to SERVE people! If it's past closing, too bad! If I want something to eat, that's too bad too! I used to be a dishwasher! Getting out at 1:45–2:00A each morning was NO "picnic!" I'm glad I finally got out! I'm never working for anyone again!!!


Cris October 29, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Just be self-aware! This is the epitome of what most people lack in all situations.


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