What a great topic, thanks for this ecib.
I used to be a General Manager of a restaurant that prided itself on staying open as long as it was warranted by our guests. That said, when 1am rolled around and there was just one couple left in the place, languishing with their waters and ice cubes, we would employ all the devices we had to get them to "see the light". By "see the light", I mean the exit sign above the door.
We would subtly turn the music up and then abruptly turn it off. We would slowly turn the lights up to be substantially brighter than when they appeared. We would ask repeatedly, even when glasses were full, "would you like more water"?
Even with all of these less than subtle clues, some people would continue to languish, hours after their consumption of food/drink passed. Some people just don't understand that the people there have lives to live outside of the restaurant and that THEY are the only things preventing those lives from progressing.
What I've just described are "end of the night campers". But there are also those that camp during peak hours. They're highly unprofitable. They tend to order digestifs or espresso and dessert, all of which are no-no's from a profitability standpoint.
I would train my servers to push appetizers. People receive appetizers when they're still hungry and thereby eat them quickly, with a main course already in tow. Desserts add at least 15 minutes to the process and the incremental revenue isn't worth the seat/table they're taking. Desert is ONLY to be pushed on a slow evening when there is "table real-estate" to be had.
Whats the most expensive thing in a restaurant?
-an empty table
What's the second most expensive thing in a restaurant?
-a table in a full restaurant that should have been empty 15 minutes ago.