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The Truth About Entering a Restaurant 10 Minutes Before Closing Time

Updated: Jun 16, 2022 11:32
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How does everyone know what an opening and closing time is, yet so few people fully understand it? It’s a very simple concept, one that we have all lived with our entire lives and still, it’s as foreign for some as Greek or the Electoral College. Each and every day, it is guaranteed there will be some restaurant customer furiously tapping a restaurant window at 10:56 wondering why the front door is locked. This isn’t too troubling for restaurant workers because they can give the same amount of attention to those customers as those customers give to the sign on the door that says the restaurant opens at 11:00: zero. Servers inside the restaurant will go on about their business and make these wretched eager beavers wait an agonizing four minutes before unlocking the door and welcoming them inside with warm greetings and cold, icy stares.

It’s the closing time that really affects servers. Once that clock strikes closed, servers focus all of their attention on the customer because it’s the only way to get them out of there. Even though the restaurant is closed we can’t go home until you do first. Ten minutes after closing time is perfectly fine. Twenty minutes is still okay. Anything after a half-hour begins to get annoying. Forty-five minutes is maddening. But when a customer is still in the restaurant an hour or more after closing time, well, that’s grounds for assault.

We’re not allowed to blatantly kick you to the curb, so we have to find gentle ways of reminding you of the situation. This is when the soft, atmospheric lighting will abruptly change to harsh, overhead, fluorescent bulbs. It’s when the piped-in music scratches to a halt and the only thing you can hear is the dish washer in the kitchen clanging racks of plates and glasses. The next thing you know, a vacuum cleaner makes an appearance, vroom-vrooming next you as you try to finish your meal. Or even worse than a vacuum cleaner is a stinky, dirty mop and a bucket full of sanit solution sploshing past your table.

Perhaps you detect the very specific odor of a fart that’s been held in for far too long. And then another. And yet another, and this time when you smell it you notice the scent always makes its presence known directly after your impatient server walks by. All of these are tactics to get you to leave.

But the very worst case is when the server does absolutely nothing at all. They simply wait obediently for however long the customer chooses to stay after the restaurant closes. The servers stand there, across the dining room throwing daggers with their eyes, willing customers to leave.

Perhaps management doesn’t allow the use of any of the other tactics or even to politely ask the customer to go home. If you’re a customer sitting in a restaurant that is closed and you see your waiter or waitress standing at attention staring at you, know that the thoughts in their heads are not nice ones. “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here,” they are silently screaming at you.

The coffee pots have been dumped and the dessert station is closed, so don’t even think about ordering anything else. Unless you are comfortable knowing that everyone who works in the restaurant hates you with a fiery passion, pay your check and get out.

Bright lights? The smell of bleach? Farts in your general direction? This is the price you pay for showing up to a restaurant ten minutes before closing time.

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Bitchy Waiter

Bitchy Waiter

Darron Cardosa is a writer, actor, singer, and waiter. He lives and and works in New York City and enjoys "The Brady Bunch," "The Facts of Life" and cocktails almost as much as he hates your baby.

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