So it's dinnertime and you realise you don't have time, energy, or the ingredients to cook, and you decide to go out at the last minute.
You show up at a restaurant and hope for a table.
"Welcome to P.F. Ruth's Outback Chili Friday Garden Jumper, home of the two-hour wait, may I help you?"
What's the longest you're willing, on average, to wait? I don't mean you just got out of work and are eyeing the lampposts hungrily, just a normal night.
I rarely if ever am willing to wait more than 30 minutes, even if there's a bar where I can get a martini or a beer while I wait.
I live in a suburban neighbourhood of Los Angeles, and I notice longer and longer waits at the chain restaurants (some of which I actually like for certain dishes -- I'm ashamed to admit that I like the salad, soup and breadsticks at the Olive Garden and a bunch of the food at Chili's, which gets big points for delivering to airports).
By the same token, if we go out to a mid-range (nice, but not ridiculous) restaurant, say Cafe Bizou or Marmalade or Yujean Kang's, it's either no tables available or we're seated in ten minutes -- and the size of the crowd at the bar seems to have no relation to it.