Closing a restaurant is a time consuming and arduous task. Before we can go home, the entire store has to be cleaned and set up for the next day. But before most of that process can begin, customers have to leave. It amazes me that no matter what I do, someone still insists on remaining exactly where they are until I have to tell them to get out. I would rather carry a thousand heavy trash bags through a rainstorm than ask a customer to leave. They always look at me with the same expression of shocked annoyance that I would have the nerve to want to clean up after them. I try very hard to believe people when they say Oh! I had no idea you were closing! Why would they lie to me, after all? So to dissipate the confusion, here’s a few signs that we’re closing you love to ignore:
So let’s say its 8:30 and you need a caffeine fix, but you don’t know if your neighborhood cafe is still open. The first step I would suggest is to run a Google search. These are very simple and often produce very helpful results (i.e. address, hours of operation, phone number). Please be sure to look carefully at the results before you call the store. I get a thousand calls a week regarding our hours of operation.
Maybe you’re already parking when you realize that it’s late. So here you are in a nearly empty parking lot. Maybe the emptiness of the parking lot is inviting, so you get out of your car and walk up to the door. Here’s where I ask you to be aware of your environment. Your first clue will be whatever medium the shop has chosen to display either their hours of operation or their open status. At my shop, this is a giant glowing sign which displays all the information you need: open. If the sign is bright, glowing, and inviting you may enter. If the sign is not alight, please don’t come in. I love customers, but after 9 pm, everyone that walks in the door is the enemy. I wish I could pretend that I care about how badly someone wants coffee after close, but I just don’t. I’m very sorry, but we’re closed.
Scenario 2 –
Let’s say you’re in a coffee shop and it’s getting late. Maybe you’ve been here for a while working diligently on homework or “freelancing” and time just flew by. Maybe you’ve met a special someone for coffee and are too busy staring deeply into each other’s eyes to care about the passing of time. Either way, I still want to go home. Whatever reason you have for lingering in a cafe in the evening, there will come a time when your baristas will begin trying to run you out. I have a few things that I love doing in order to “encourage” customers to go home.
Sometimes I turn the music up to a volume over which no one can communicate. This is my favorite, but it doesn’t always work. Mostly it’s just fun for me to throw my own dance party in the shop after hours. When that doesn’t work, I turn the music off so everyone can hear every word you say. I typically do this when I can tell there are some intense conversations happening. If you’re sitting in a shop and one of these two things happens, the best thing to do is to continue your conversation in the parking lot, out of the way of your barista’s cleaning frenzy.
If you notice that your barista has begun stacking chairs on the tables around you, it is time to get out. I don’t do this often because I know some day a chair is going to fall off a table and onto a customer. If this is happening, it’s best that you leave. For your own safety.
There are many ways your barista will try to communicate nonverbally that the shop is closing. Sweeping floors, wiping tables, and cleaning bathrooms are subtle indicators. Blaring dance music, stacking chairs, and flipping the open sign are less subtle. Please pay attention and whatever happens, don’t make us tell you.