Ask a Chef: Is it ok to show up at a restaurant right before it closes?

All your modern dining etiquette quandaries answered.

October 9, 2019 ‚óŹ 1 min read

By Richie Nakano

Yes. Kind of. Sort of. Bear with me here.

If a restaurant posts that they’re open until 11, well, you should technically be able to go there at 10:59 and sit down and eat. And absolutely there are places out there that will turn you away if you show up at 10:45—and that sucks. But most restaurants have policies in place that honor the posted hours, and the best restaurants will have implemented a culture that puts the guests first and will give you their highest levels of service, no matter what time you sit.

HAVING SAID THAT. Will people be annoyed? Possibly! Will the full menu be available? Maybe not. Items sell out by the end of the night. Will you get the exact same service as a person that showed up when the restaurant opened? Sometimes. But sometimes the cooks have already started breaking down their stations, under orders from the chef, because to them, a fully staffed kitchen is not necessary to serve one table. The polite thing to do if you’re sat last minute is order fast, eat fast, and say thanks on your way out. And if possible, call ahead and let them know you’re on your way.

Dining dilemmas used to be like “Do I tip 15 or 18%?” or “How long will the restaurant hold my reserved table if I’m running late?” Those were simpler times, because for most of us, dining out has gotten a lot more confusing. Who do we tip at the robotic hamburger restaurant? Why can’t you get a reservation without putting a credit card down? We tapped into our expert community to offer some advice so we can all be better diners, and the result is our column we like to call "Ask a Chef," where we are dedicated to answering all your modern dining etiquette quandaries, directly from the chef perspective.
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