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As an industry insider, and restaurant manager of many years, I have all too often been on the receiving end of that one last table that will not leave. All the other tables have paid and left, your staff are tired and are looking at you with sad puppy dog eyes.
Everyone is a bit tired, a little grumpy, and even after the guests leave you still have to cashup, file all the paperwork and make sure that the restaurant is ready for the next day.
Despite all of this, you are obliged and honour bound to keep a smile on your face as you continue to offer “anything else to drink?” or “another bottle of wine, perhaps?” one more damn time.
So how do you know when you’ve overstayed your welcome? When is the right time to ask for the bill? We asked some restaurant owners and managers and this is their advice:
It’s time to leave when:
1. You are the last table left in the restaurant. It’s nothing to be proud of.
2. You’ve already paid the bill. 45 minutes ago.
3. There is nothing left on your table except water glasses.
4. You notice that the music has been turned off.
5. It’s been 20 minutes since you had coffee.
6. The manager herself comes over and asks if “there is anything else we can get for you”? She means the bill.
7. If you arrived at lunch time, and you notice people arriving to eat dinner, you need to go.
8. The fire has died in the fireplace, and no one is trying to build it up again.
9. If the restaurant has a two seating policy, ask when you arrive if your table is booked again. And then leave at that time.
10. The staff are packing away the outside furniture.
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