The Closing Time Controversy: Is It Rude to Stay Late at a Restaurant?

There are many rules to live by when going to a restaurant.

For instance, arriving on time is prudent if you’ve booked a reservation. You must also be friendly and polite to the servers and respect other customers.

But what about staying inside after the restaurant closes?

So, Is It Rude to Stay at a Restaurant Past Closing Hours?

Yes. It is never advisable to stay in a restaurant past closing. Remember that the employees there have been working the whole day. So they are trying to go home. Staying past the closing time means keeping the workers, which is quite rude.

They might not tell you directly because they have to please the customers.

But you being there means that they can’t close the restaurant.

Although it might not be obvious to everyone, that is being selfish.

Additionally, remember that if you are the only one in the building, the staff has to keep the lights on for your table.

But this is a waste of resources. If you are going to stay a long time past closing hours, make sure you leave a great tip.

If you aren’t planning on tipping well or ordering a lot of food, it is best to leave the place once they close.

How Long Should You Stay in a Restaurant After Closing?

Ideally, you should leave beforehand. This allows the staff to finish up their work at ease.

Remember that cleaning and arranging things can be problematic if guests remain present.

But we should mention that some restaurants allow customers to sit after closing.

The exact time varies in different places, but it is mostly 15-20 minutes after they close.

However, some customers insist on staying longer than this. In that case, the restaurant has every right to ask you to leave politely.

Generally, the length of time you will stay depends on the restaurant.

Some places decide to let customers stay and serve them for as long as possible or close to their time limit for taking a new order policy.

If you plan to stay for a long time, you need to know the restaurant’s policy before walking in.

Many workers will not want to work overtime as they want to go home, or they may be students who work part-time and want to study for an upcoming exam.

That’s why you may see them in a rush to close up and hurrying customers.

However, in most cases, if there are still many customers in the building, they will allow them to sit for as long as possible while they start cleaning the house and other places that don’t affect the customer to enable them to stay longer.

Should You Go to a Restaurant 30 Minutes Before Closing?

Well, this depends on the kind of restaurant you are visiting.

Some places will find it rude for customers to walk in during this time, while other businesses may not mind it.

If you go into a fast food restaurant, like Subway or McDonald’s, going in 30 minutes before closing might not be rude to the staff.

Well, mostly, they will have done some steps towards closing. But since the meals are prepared quickly, your order will not take long and therefore, they won’t view you as rude.

But, if you are visiting a casual restaurant that offers complex meals and services, going 30 minutes before closing may be inappropriate.

Remember that even if the restaurant is still open, there may not be any orders they are taking 30 minutes. So, walking in during this period can be inconsiderate to the staff.

However, if the place doesn’t have a policy barring customers from ordering 30 minutes before closing, you can walk in comfortably.

We advise you to look around and determine the atmosphere in the restaurant.

If you only spot one server that’s already overwhelmed by attending to the present customers, going in is not recommended.

But if many employees don’t seem to be that held up, you can walk in and order a quick bite without feeling guilty.

Can a Restaurant Kick You Out Past Closing?

Yes. Restaurants have the right to kick out customers who hang around for too long after closing.

But if you are already inside, most places will let you finish after closing time, as long as you don’t take long.

However, they usually don’t have to since many people notice that the restaurant is closing and they eat and drink up quickly.

But some people may insist on staying a bit longer for conversation after finishing their meals. In that case, the staff can politely remind them that they are closing.

We must also mention that they can involve the police if you don’t leave or start being arrogant.

To prevent such instances, it’s best to leave even before the place closes.

How Long Should You Spend in a Restaurant?

Most places in the United States expect customers to turn their table twice or thrice a night.

So, if you are partying with two people, the restaurant will expect you to stay 1 hour and 45 minutes or 2 hours.

But note that in many cases, the staff won’t care how long you sit in the restaurant as long as you are eating or drinking.

It is rude to occupy a table if you aren’t eating/drinking anything, especially if it is a busy place.

In fact, many restaurants will ask you to leave to allow space for customers who want to order.

Once you pay the bill and there is no food or drink on the table, finish up and leave within 10 minutes of paying.

However, if you’ve paid the bill and still have food and drinks on your table, you can hang around for around 30 more minutes or an hour and leave.

How Long Should You Wait for Food?

Customers expect to be served at least 24 minutes after ordering, 34 minutes maximum.

But then, this all depends on the food you order.

If you are in a hurry and no one has served you in more than 15 minutes since you’ve arrived, you can leave the restaurant without paying.

But once you make your order, you may need to pay for it even if the meal was terrible.

Final Thoughts

It may be rude to continue hanging around the restaurant past its closing time.

By doing that, you will be inconveniencing the server, cook, cashier, busy boy, bartender, and everyone working on the premises.

It is bad to make hard-working, honest workers work for extra hours to fulfill the needs of a single customer.

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