DEAR ABBY: Last night my boyfriend and I ate at a very good Chinese restaurant. The sign says it closes at 9 p.m. We arrived at 8:45, were seated and ordered a small meal.
While we were starting the soup, the server brought the main course. As we began the main course, he brought the fortune cookies and the bill and placed them on the table. He said they were closing the cash register and asked us to pay immediately. At the same time, another employee began vacuuming around us and the other couple who were still eating.
Abby, it's a large restaurant, and they could have started cleaning at the other end of the room. The woman of the other couple asked them if they'd please turn off the vacuum, and was told they were closing. Meanwhile, my boyfriend and I paid for a meal we couldn't enjoy. Had we known they would rush us, we could have ordered the meal to go.
We are late eaters, so we usually ask when we enter a restaurant if they're still serving. Are restaurant closing times generally considered the same as store closings when customers should be out the door at a designated time? What do you think, Abby? -- DISAPPOINTED DINER IN SAN CARLOS, CALIF.
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: Don't fault the employees at the Chinese restaurant. The posted closing time is just that, a closing time that should be honored just as customers should abide by the closing time of a department store.
Next time you must eat late, in consideration for the restaurant owner and employees, select a restaurant with a later closing time -- or order take-out.