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The best way to post your restaurant's hours

Question:

What is the best way to advertise/post our restaurant's hours? We keep the bar open till close, but the pizza/salad station closes an hour early; the main kitchen closes two hours early. I've tried to list it all, but it's too confusing.

– Allan Donovan, Owner, CiaoCristina!, Toluca Lake, CA

Answer:

I recall a night spot in Texas called the Pistol Bar.  They advertised that you could “Drink till 12, and Pistol 2.” However, I probably wouldn’t recommend that for CiaoChristina!

I looked at your website and you’re right… it is confusing. In fact, the hours noted on the website don’t match the hours you described in your original question. It makes no mention whatsoever of the pizza and salad bar. I guess your webmaster is a little confused as well.

What’s the compelling business reason for a three-stage shutdown every night? Most of my clients simply state the times that they open and close and leave it at that. If a guest comes in prior to closing time, they accommodate the party. That’s by far the simplest and best suggestion I could offer you.

If that won’t work for Ciao Christina!, a good compromise would be to leave both the pizza / salad bar and the kitchen open until an hour before closing. Then you simply communicate your hours of operation each day, and state that food service terminates one hour prior to closing.

Another option would be to leave the pizza and salad bar in operation until you shut down the bar at closing time. It simplifies the messaging task by eliminating one layer of complexity. The product should hold for an hour, and you should be able to sell more food in that final hour. I’m no lawyer, but it could perhaps help reduce the restaurant’s liability for alcohol related-driving issues. It should be possible to close and clean the pizza / salad bar with a minimum of extra labor if you think through the staffing assignments.

Finally, if you’re committed to the three-stage closing plan and you’re simply looking for a way to language the current scenario, how about, “Final dinner seating two hours prior to closing; pizza and salad bar available until one hour prior to closing”.

Remember that the simplest option is almost always the best one. Good luck!

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