Author Topic: S/O of "taking up space" - a 30 minute time limit sign inside restaurant  (Read 6481 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

snappylt

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 459
Earlier this summer I had to wait for an hour during the heat of the day in our old neighborhood while my son attended a meeting.  There was no comfortable place to wait inside the office building where my son's meeting was being held, so I slipped across the street to a McDonalds.

There was a BIG sign inside the McDonalds, saying that there was a 30 minute time limit for sitting inside the restaurant.  Anyone staying longer than 30 minutes was loitering, according to the sign.  (Sorry, I don't remember the exact wording.)

I had never seen a rude sign like that at a restaurant, and that sign was not there when we used to live in that neighborhood years ago.  In fact, there is no sign like that in the McDonalds in our new town, or in the other McDonalds restaurants I've visited.

I went ahead and bought a drink and a salad, sat down and read my library book while I ate very slowly for about 50 minutes.  Nobody bothered me.  (There were plenty of empty seats, too.)

I was prepared to leave politely if an employee ordered me out, but I was thinking to myself that the sign was unreasonable, that my purchase of a big salad and drink should include the use of a table and their air conditioning for at least an hour, if not longer, as long as nobody else was waiting for a seat.

So, what do others think?  Is it reasonable for McDonalds to expect people to finish their meals in 30 minutes and to label them loiterers if they take longer than 30 minutes?  Was I rude for enjoying my purchase for longer than McDonalds time limit?


MrsJWine

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8829
  • I have an excessive fondness for parentheses.
    • Wallydraigle
Signs like that usually aren't meant for people who buy a decent amount of food or sit for a while in a not-full restaurant and who don't make any trouble. They're just something extra to point to if management needs to kick someone out. For instance the pool/hot tub at our apartment "closes" at 10, but the manager has told me that they truly do not care how late you're in there unless you're making noise. The 10:00 closing is for them to have a concrete rule to use if they need it. I wouldn't take it so personally.


I have a blog.  I hate that word.


Utah

Green Bean

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 117
Was this near a high school?

When I was in hs, the McD's had loitering signs to minimize large groups of teens hanging out, taking up tables, being noisy, and onlythe sharing a large fries among the table.

I vote you were ok since you were eating and the restaurant wasn't full.

PeterM

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3321
Was this near a high school?

Heh. I was thinking it was to discourage homeless people or old people, but students works, too.

I probably don't need to explain why restaurants might want to discourage homeless people loitering, though of course the ethics of that can be questioned. Back in Boston, though, there was a bit of a stink with a McDonald's located in a touristy/shopping area that was also a residential area with a predominantly older population.

McDonald's side of things was that they'd get groups of old people coming in early in the morning and staying all day. Using the restaurant as a community center, basically, with many people buying only a single cup of coffee or even nothing at all. For large portions of the day that might not be a big deal, but this place was busy for lunch and after work, and there'd be no empty tables for paying customers. So they put up signs similar to the one in the OP.

Needless to say, all hell broke loose. Articles in the (small, local) paper, letters to the editor, it was ridiculous. The manager of the McDonald's also apparently stopped heating the restaurant as much as usual during the winter, and that caused more complaints.

I went there for lunch during the beginning of the mess and overheard a large-ish group of older people complaining about how the manager didn't know what he was doing. He was throwing away business, that sort of thing. It was a largely Jewish area, so there was muttering in Yiddish as well. Fun to listen to, but I was on the manager's side considering none of these people actually had food in front of them.

sweetonsno

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1404
I don't think an establishment is rude to make rules about behavior. For instance, I don't think it's rude for a restaurant to say that restrooms are for paying customers only or that only paying customers can use the Wi-fi. I think thirty minutes is a reasonable amount of time in which to consume a meal.

I agree with the previous posters who said that the sign was probably to deter loiterers who were harming business, either by not paying or by scaring away/disturbing paying customers. (For example, a homeless person who buys a small coffee and then sits for three hours or some boisterous teenagers who will buy a Coke and small fries and then joke loudly for the next hour and a half.) It's unlikely that they wanted a polite and respectful customer who had purchased a full meal to scarf it down at choking speed.

I don't think it's rude to linger over a meal in this type of restaurant if nobody else is waiting for a seat. So long as you weren't staying that long expressly because you were annoyed at the sign, I think you're just fine. If you were in doubt, though, I think it would have been fine to explain your situation to the person behind the counter and make sure it was okay if you stayed a bit longer. Chances are they'd tell you it was no problem.

Snowy Owl

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1207

I think this was very probably a sign to deter loiterers and people taking up a table for a long period of time without buying something or enough.  I would highly doubt that the restaurant is going around with a stopwatch evicting people when they've had their 30 minutes.  It's more likely that as long as they're empty, you've bought something and you're quiet there'd not be a problem and nobody would say anything.
And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Venus193

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 15937
  • Backstage passes are wonderful things!
The Panera in my neighborhood has a sign on the door that anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult between certain hours on weekdays.  This is  because there are two schools in the immediate vicinity.

HermioneGranger

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2490
Two Panera breads by my house have their fair share of campers.  One has a group of retirees, who keep to themselves as they have breakfast and socialize.  The other has a church group who is loud to the point that we can't hear ourselves think.  I wouldn't be surprised if a similar sign doesn't go up in that one soon.  In the meantime, we'll hang with the retirees.   :P

Winterlight

  • On the internet, no one can tell you're a dog- arf.
  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 9891
I think it's reasonable. I've only seen the policy applied in places where people were camping out for hours at busy times of the day and not ordering anything. My local Panera has this problem- people come in, order a cup of coffee and take up residence for the day. Meanwhile,you have the lunch rush and those customers have nowhere to sit.
If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
Caroline Lake Ingalls

SuperMartianRobotGirl

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1121
I guess they have a right to do it but I wouldn't choose to eat someplace I would feel hurried, so this would cause me to give the place a pass.

learningtofly

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 958
I think signs like that are reasonable.  In our Panera most of the campers are knitting groups, but they come by after the dinner rush.  The Panera is half empty and their coffees/pastries are revenue that our Panera does not get on nights they don't meet.  I've never been kept from a table by campers in our Panera. 

I do have a friend who wrote her thesis in Panera.  She liked the noise and the atmosphere.  She bought breakfast and lunch if she was still there at lunch time.  If she came in the afternoon she had a snack.  She camped, but she bought things routinely and never kept anyone from a table.  It also made it easy to buy her presents.  She really appreciated the Panera gift cards and I liked getting her soemthing she could use  ;D

DaDancingPsych

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1847
I guess they have a right to do it but I wouldn't choose to eat someplace I would feel hurried, so this would cause me to give the place a pass.

I also choose to not eat at places where I can't find a seat.

I agree that the rule and the sign are typically aimed at a certain few who are not being considerate of others. I think that the sign would only bother me if in the same situation (purchased a meal and there were empty tables), the staff was pushing me out the door. "You have been here 34 minutes, so please take the remainder of your salad and leave."

HorseFreak

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2781
It depends on the restaurant and area. There's a McDonald's near my job where a group of senior citizens camps out every single day and takes up 1/3 of the tables for the entire day, including the lunch rush. There are few decent places to eat around here so the McD's gets packed and once I couldn't find a place to sit. They've also been known to make comments about the customers which made me very uncomfortable. Management won't do anything and I've stopped going there.

Jones

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2601
It depends on the restaurant and area. There's a McDonald's near my job where a group of senior citizens camps out every single day and takes up 1/3 of the tables for the entire day, including the lunch rush. There are few decent places to eat around here so the McD's gets packed and once I couldn't find a place to sit. They've also been known to make comments about the customers which made me very uncomfortable. Management won't do anything and I've stopped going there.

Our local McDonalds had that problem. Apparently the men never learned that sexist comments were rude and outdated. They always sat in a section of the dining room that couldn't be seen by the counter, and they spread out (think, one person per a two-top). Didn't bother me too awful much because if I had a desire for fast food breakfast (MmmmmcGriddles) I just did the drive thru after my first encounter with the raunchy old guys.

Well, that McDonalds has redecorated. The dining area is a different shape, a large square that can be easily seen by the counter, and the tables are all booths now, with little dividers. From what I understand and have so far witnessed, those "gentlemen" don't go there anymore. No time limit sign, but the things that made that place desirable to the group were eliminated.

Probably a lot cheaper to just get a sign.

ShanghaiJill

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 676
A restaurant that was in a neighborhood with lots of half way houses initiated a rule that you had to spend $1 each visit.  That was 30 years ago, so I'm sure it has gone up.  The place is still there though.

For those not in the US a half way house is where one goes when leaving an institution in order to transition back into the community.