Mailbag Wednesday – is 9 the new 10?

Question: OK, this is more of an etiquette question rather than a food question.  If a restaurant advertises their dinner hours, say something like 5pm to 10pm, what exactly does the 10pm represent?  Does that mean that they stop making food at 10pm, will happily seat you if you walk in at 10pm, or they will seat you but might do “questionable” things to the food that they serve you because they are ready to go home? Brian, Sacramento

Answer: This is a classic question! Technically if a restaurant posts open hours until 10pm, you should be able to arrive just before 10, be seated, served, and welcomed to stay until your meal experience is complete. That being said… HA HA HA!!! I actually did a google search on this question and came up with multiple hits – Waiters ranting about late comers, owners lamenting controlling costs beyond a normal shift, kitchens needing to close down at some point, etc. My normal practice in late dining moments is to get a read on the restaurant. If it’s still busy and feels active, you’re probably safe to stay. If it’s quiet and the staff seems like they’re closing up shop, probably not such a good idea. If the restaurant has a busy bar, sometimes the bar offers a more limited late night menu – it’s best to engage your better judgment, you can always ask what the kitchen schedule is, and often times the service staff will tell you that the kitchen just closed, or certain items are no longer available, etc. And yes, I’ve heard horror stories about the service and kitchen staff who are handling your food not being completely above board because they’re irritated with you for coming in late. On that note, I’d suggest you never irritate a fast food worker!!!

I’d love it if all ya’ll would weigh in with your experiences with this???


4 Responses to “Mailbag Wednesday – is 9 the new 10?”

  1. 1 Brian Reid
    February 18, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Thanks. We tend to avoid a restaurant if we are within one hour of its posted closing. So, for a restaurant that advertises that it closes at 10pm, we would only go to it if it is 9pm or earlier. Tower Cafe here in Sacramento advertises their closing hours with the final one hour only for desserts and drinks (ie, 8am to 11pm, desserts and drinks from 10pm to 11pm).

  2. 2 Patrick Bartlett
    February 18, 2010 at 10:52 am

    I LOVE the Tower Cafe – I wish there were more restaurants with the world fusion they offer – their last hour policy is a good one – and I’ve enjoyed coffee and dessert there on more than one occasion. Like you, I tend to think of the posted closing as the time I should be exiting the restaurant.

  3. March 4, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    This is great advice Patrick and a very common question.

    One thing I’d like to know…are there actually restaurants open until or after 10 pm in San Diego? Sadly, now with a 2 year old, we aren’t making it out on the town for late night dinners anymore, but about 5 years ago, a person would be hard-pressed to find any restaurant in San Diego open that late;) BTW: I’m adding you to my blog roll right now – no more procrastinating:) We will be in Temecula picking up our wine on the 20th, hopefully we can touch base.

    • 4 Patrick Bartlett
      March 5, 2010 at 3:00 pm

      LOL – Does Urban Mo’s qualify? I don’t know much about SD dining, but I get the Glass Lamp district has lots of places open later.

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Patrick Bartlett

A conversation about food, wine, and the art of living well!


February 2010
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