Is it Rude to Show Up at a Restaurant Before They Open -- What About Just Before Closing Time?

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Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail laura.hahnefeld@newtimes.com. Miss a question? Go here.

Sure, restaurants have posted hours -- but, hey, when hunger calls, what's a diner to do? Does showing up before an establishment opens or just before closing a sign of poor etiquette?

See also: Should Guests Tip for To-Go Orders? Why Don't Some Restaurants Take Reservations? What's the Best Way to Send Food Back at a Restaurant?

I asked a few Valley chefs and restauranteurs and this is what they had to say.

Aaron May Chef and Restaurateur

Showing up early and expecting to be served is a little silly. As for showing up at closing, the hours are posted for a reason. I see nothing wrong with showing up at a restaurant right up until closing and expecting a fine meal and great service. If a restaurant wants to close earlier, it should change its hours.

Chef Stephen Jones, Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails

It isn't rude to show up before they open, given that it's not an unreasonable arrival ahead of them unlocking the doors. If you're okay with waiting for service, wait patiently in the bar and have a glass of wine or a beer. Walking into a restaurant as they are closing isn't cool, especially if you're familiar with the hours of operation and you're just trying to sneak in at the last minute.

Kirsten Burruel, General Manager, DownUnder Wines and Bistro

I appreciate it when people show up before we open! It shows an enthusiasm about our place. If you do show up around closing time, it's always appropriate to inquire if the kitchen is still open or drinks are being served.

Chef Stephen "Chops" Smith, Searsucker Scottsdale

It depends on how early. If you don't mind waiting for service inside the restaurant, then it's no big deal -- sometimes we're still prepping for service right up until we open.

Showing up when a place is closing is a different story. If the restaurant is busy, an extra table or two at closing won't make much of a difference. But we have to worry about labor, which is a big cost for restaurants. It's weird how guests will show up when you're closing and not think twice about it. A bank wouldn't stay open if there's people in the building at closing time nor would most other businesses. In the end, it boils down to respect -- everyone working in a restaurant has a life or family to attend to after they get off work.

Dave Andrea, Owner, Brat Haus

It's not rude to show up early, just a little inconvenient. You're usually not prepared to give them 100 percent of your attention since you're busy setting up. Showing up at closing is no big deal. Best time to show up is before the rush, whatever that means for whatever restaurant you're going to.

Bill Sandweg, Owner, Copper Star Coffee and Circle H Barbecue

I'm an old Oregano's guy, so open is open -- even five minutes after close! It's not rude. Sometimes the customer just doesn't know and there may be extenuating circumstances. When our daughter was born by emergency C-section, there weren't many places to go at 10 p.m. Mi Patio stayed open for us and made us customers for life. I guess you just never know.

Charles Barth, Marketing Coordinator, That's a Wrap!

Showing up to a restaurant before they open will most likely land you waiting in the lobby until they do, so you're only hurting yourself there.

Showing up just before a restaurant closes keeps kitchen and bus staff there longer than they'd like to be and likely longer than they were scheduled to stay. What may be less obvious is that these people have a long list of things to take care of before they can close the restaurant. Bus staff have to clean and restock everything all around the restaurant (including your table, which they'll have to wait for you to vacate) and kitchen staff have to scrub down everything they use to cook (including what they use to cook your meal, which are likely things they'd already cleaned for the night.) These people typically work for meager hourly wages, so they're not too enticed by a little more time on their punch card when it makes them miss what might have been the last bus home.

Romeo Taus, Chef and Owner, Romeo's Euro Cafe

As a chef-owner we never turn down any business. Early and late is a part of what we do. Perhaps it's a little less convenient by not being able to offer the full menu, but these guests made a conscious decision to spend time and money in our establishment. It would not be hospitable to disappoint them. Any time is the right time.

Pauline Martinez, Chef and Owner, Perk Eatery

I wouldn't say it's rude, but showing up early is better than showing up at closing time. Of course, in this industry you never want to turn away a customer, so we will always accommodate.

Eddie Goitia, Owner, Monti's La Casa Vieja

Showing up early is never a problem. Those that camp out for sport need help. Two hours after closing they need to get a room.

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