Back to Archives

Wrap it up

The Dirty Dish: Why must you linger?

Email Article Print Article Share on Facebook Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon

While scanning several local blogs lately, I have noticed one particular subject that keeps appearing: restaurant hours. Some of the questions about this topic include: Why don’t more downtown restaurants stay open late? Why are some restaurants closed on Sundays? Why aren’t they open for breakfast? I am sure there are a few I have missed, but let me try to address a few of these questions.

I am here to tell you that setting restaurant hours is more difficult than most might think. Many factors must be considered: type and size of the establishment; location; employees; market; the owner’s vision. These are all thoughtfully pondered and fretted over.

The most critical factor in this decision is type and size of the restaurant. An intimate bistro most likely wouldn’t stay open much past 9 p.m., especially in not downtown Tacoma.  Do you know what customer arrives after 9 p.m.? Coffee and dessert. Staying open later does not automatically equate to making more money. As a matter of fact, more often than not, the end result is that the establishment will lose money.

Some other small establishments do stay open until 11 p.m., but I guarantee it is because their location supports it. Larger restaurants can also afford to stay open later because they have bars with hard alcohol. That is where the money is, baby. However, with the hard stuff can come a lot of B.S., so there definitely can be a trade-off. Plus, once dinner service is over, they send a good majority of the staff home, thus relieving a large portion of their labor costs.

In a small restaurant, customers are rarely out the door right at closing. People like to linnnnnnger. Have you ever been the last person or couple at a little bistro after closing hours? The place closed at 9 and now it’s 10, and you are STILL nursing that glass of wine? Oh, but you asked the server if it was OK, and he said it was. I guarantee he lied because what the hell else is he going to do? Pick you up and throw you out? Of course he has to wipe down the counters and count the till among other closing duties, but those don’t take much longer than a half-hour. In the meantime, that owner has to pay that server an extra hour’s wage while you linger and the restaurant begins to lose money.

As hard as you wish, folks, Tacoma is not Los Angeles or New York, where restaurants stay open into the late hours of the evening. We are not there yet, and we may never be. Late night eating and drinking is for bars and pubs. Before you blog and bitch, put yourself in a restaurant owner’s shoes. It simply does not make financial sense for certain establishments to stay open much later than 9 or 10.

Don’t get me wrong. Dining out should be a pleasant and relaxing experience. We as restaurant workers bust our butts while we serve you to make it so, but when our day is over we look forward to it being OVER. As a customer, please try to respect this by observing a restaurant or bar’s closing hours. Those workers have families and lives too. Oh, and breakfast? Are you kidding? There is no money in it. Open on Sundays? Again, we need a life too.

Eat out Tacoma. We need your love.

Sandee Glib has worked in the restaurant and hospitality industry for more than 12 years as a server, bartender, cook and owner. Her opinions are expressly her own and she is always right.

comments powered by Disqus