Here's a question for you to chew on (pardon the pun).  Is it okay to walk into a restaurant and ask for a table ten minutes before it closes?  I decided to poll the crowd on Facebook and got all kinds of responses.  Those responses came from servers, former servers and restaurant-goers.  And the answers, as you can imagine, were mixed.  But the majority of people polled seem to be on the same menu page!

I spent most of my time in college waiting tables at the Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown Louisville.


Yes, I waited tables so I could afford my last few years of undergraduate work.  I have plenty of personal experience with this topic.  At the Old Spaghetti Factory, I waited tables in Section Six of the restaurant, which meant that I was essentially the Head Waiter (or the "cashier" who was in charge of checking out all the servers).  My section was the last one closed nightly and, consequently, the one open until the doors up front were locked for the night.  And I routinely had people stroll into my section ten minutes, five minutes, even one minute before closing time.

Now, I didn't mind the extra cash, but it drive me freaking crazy!  It essentially added another hour to my shift and night.  As a waiter, my philosophy was this.  If the kitchen closes at ten (or, at Spag, eleven on the weekends), I am going to get and turn your order in immediately.  And I made no bones about the fact that I was going to be serving drinks, bread and salads within moments and that food was going to be rolling out just as quickly.  I was a master of turning and burning tables and I threw that into overdrive for late comers.

To this day, because of my experience as a server, I try to avoid rolling into a restaurant minutes for closing.  That said, I have done it.  But, I always, as a courtesy, tell the server to go ahead and throw the order in and I always promise that we will be out of there ASAP.  And, even more importantly, I always tip accordingly.  Trust me, I know these types of customers can be an inconvenience . . . to the bar staff, wait staff, and kitchen staff.  If I am in a situation in which I am bordering on being an inconvenience, I make darn sure I'm not.  My friend Chad Sermon feels the same way . . .

Chad Sermon I am guilty but I also have said right to the people all the way to chief, I will tip you ALL good .

Here are some other responses I received from various friends on social media.

Shopping Center Vacancy Rate At 17 Year High
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Again, the question- Is it okay to walk into a restaurant and ask for a table ten minutes for the restaurant closes?

Brian Beck Yes. But you better tip and let them know you realize it’s close to closing.

Daniel Irvin As a former server....I'd say to stick with places that are open 24/7, or extremely late. The place I worked at closed at 11pm....a group came in at 10:55 and camped out. Needless to say, I got home at 1:15 am

Jacque Bennett Nalley As a former server, the people who did that would usually sit and talk way past closing, keeping the entire staff there. And notoriously were terrible tippers. Basically it was the same people.

Steve Roehm Nope! Never piss off someone preparing your food. Those folks have lives too. Go somewhere open longer than you expect to be there or go to the grocery.

Eric Huskisson In my restaurant work experience don't do it. It pisses off the cooks more than anybody!

Loretta Conrad As a former waitress and manager of a restaurant it makes you really mad when someone comes in 10 minutes to closing when you have been slow and have most of every thing cleaned up. People will sit and talk for an hour and hold your employees and you up for a few dollars which runs your labor up. So out of respect I don't go in to a restaurant that is within 10 minutes of closing

Ada Marie Rhodes Noooooo!! Sorry, I’ve never been a server, but if the restaurant closes in 10 minutes....that’s just rude!!! These guys have worked a whole shift, they are tired. Mostly, they are just as excited to see their closing time just like anyone else. My opinion!!

Kathy Adkins As a former waitress we are open for you even if it’s 1 minute until close. You should expect the same gracious service as if you were the first customer I had that day. But please expect that some people don’t look at it that way. I always found those last minute customers if given excellent service give excellent tips as well and don’t mind if you do your other work while they eat

Gail Cohen They should have something or someone saying that the kitchen closes at 9:30 and restaurant 10. No new guests 30 min. prior to closing.

Rhea Collignon Cooper I remember working at a buffet when some patrons did that and the girl closing the bar yelled to the manager across the restaurant, "Do I get all of this out of the trash to restock the buffet?" So no. Definitely not.

In my Facebook poll, the folks who answered "NO" far outnumbered those who answered "YES."

So, what do you think?  Is it okay to walk into a restaurant and ask for a table ten minutes before it closes?

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