Restaurant Culture Europe vs. United States  

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I am currently listening my way through the Rick Steves podcast archive, and I keep being surprised at his surprise at how you can sit in a European restaurant for as long as you like, without the waiter trying to make you leave (unless they are actually closing for the night).

I have been in the United States many times but was never aware of this difference until a few years ago, when some friends invited us for a restaurant dinner. It obviously was a popular restaurant, there was a long line of people waiting to be seated, and we felt lucky our friends had reservations.

But barely had we sat down, they wanted to take our orders. We felt we were being rushed through the meal, and the check was on the table before we had even finished our last bite.

We all would really have loved to sit and talk. After all, we hadn't seen each other for a long time. But none of us even dared mention having some coffee or dessert, we just all felt we had to leave as soon as we had cleared our plates and paid.

At that time, I thought this was just a restaurant with an especially impolite staff. But these RS podcast shows have got me thinking. Is that really typical U.S. restaurant culture?

And why did I never notice that before? Possibly I have simply never been in such a crowded restaurant before?

But even with many people wanting a table, this would be unthinkable in a European restaurant. If all tables are taken, well tough luck. You can wait, sure. But they are certainly not going to rush anyone to finish their meal so you can get a table a minute earlier.

Just some thoughts. I wonder what is your take on this?

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