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What are the rules for how long I am allowed to camp out at the table after paying?

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What are the rules for how long I am allowed to camp out at the table after paying?

john333 | Jun 11, 2011 05:37 AM

When I eat dinner solo with my book when I'm finished eating the waiter(ress) will bring the bill folder and leave it on the table. I put the money in the bill folder and continue reading. At some point the waiter(ress) will return and take the bill folder with the money away. 90% of the time they don't have to bring me change because I leave cash equal to the bill plus a tip.

When the bill folder is taken away presumabley I'm "done". But if it's after the dinner rush and there's empty tables around can I stay a while reading? How long? Assume I don't want to "transfer to the bar" because I don't want to buy any more drinks.

I assume if there's other tables empty I'm not using "valuable real estate". On the other hand I've read that each server is only allowed to have a certain number of customers at a given time so even if other tables are empty I'm depriving my waiter(ress) of a new customer by camping out and continuing to read.

So do I always have to skedaddle after the bill folder with the money is taken away? Or if I can stay and read for awhile, under what circumstances and for how long? I'd appreciate hearing from some servers too. Thanks!

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