Respecting Your Elders (While Keeping Business)

For many people, a trip to the restaurant, especially a quick-service one, follows a few beats. Get to the restaurant (wait on friends or family if you’re meeting people there), deduce what you’re going to order, place the order and wait on it to be ready, enjoy your meal leisurely while making a few jokes or sharing stories, wait on everyone to finish and reach a point where they realize they need to go about their day, and leave. Hopefully, some sort of payment was included in the timeline.

For many restaurants, though, one step might take a bit longer than desired. While no restaurant wants to kick a person out, eventually there’s a reasonable limit of time spent in the restaurant. If you’re sitting in the restaurant for hours after you’ve finished your meal, and especially after you’ve stopped ordering drinks or snacks, you’ll drive the staff a bit crazy.

While we’ve given you tips on how to take care of “Internet Squatters,” there’s a bit more of a sensitive subject when it comes to elderly.

Consumerist reports that a McDonald’s in Queens, New York, has run into problems with a group of elderly ordering minimal amounts of food (a cup of coffee, or splitting a small French fry order) and staying in the restaurant for hours, from morning to the evening hours. Various measures have been taken in the effort to get the group out of the restaurant, with police being called to remove them (only for them to return minutes later) and posting signs indicating that customers have 20 minutes to complete their meal and leave the premises.

It took elected officials to reach a compromise; during the peak hours of 10AM to 3PM, the group will have to abdicate their seats if they are needed by others. As these particular customers speak Mandarin and Korean, signs will be posted in both languages, and a local senior center has offered up shuttle service to get them to other places to wile away the day.

At a Burger King near Boston, though, the staff had an opposite problem. They had 14 seniors who would park at the Burger King and then disappear with a rented van into the city for a day excursion. Despite the fact they have done this for two decades, the restaurant decided to post signage indicating that cars of non-customers would be towed. Eight cars were towed, which the seniors were unhappy to find to be the case when they returned. The total sum of the towing was $800 (after the towing company reduced it).

Have you run into seating issues with certain demographics? No restaurant profits when customers take up seating spaces without purchasing food, and when parking spots are taken up without customers, actual paying customers won’t be able to park. While police and towing companies might be pushing it too far, addressing the subject with the “offenders” might be the best course of action; in the first situation, a compromise was reached by simply talking things out.

Do you have any suggestions on keeping your restaurant moving, and getting customers in and out?