To the campers, and I can feel their umbrage rising, let me clue you in. You know why there are restaurants that simply won't take reservations? Because of people like you. Those restaurants that obnoxiously print, "We allow 90 minutes for your dining experience" on the menu? Likely inspired by people like you. Remember that time you weren't seated for 20 minutes past your reserved time? Possibly caused by people like you.
Think of it as an exercise in simple human decency. If you've been at your table a good long time, dinner consumed and check paid, and you can see that there are people waiting for a chance to eat, take your fourth cup of coffee and fascinating conversation somewhere else. That money you forked over was for the dinner check, not a down payment on the table.
Some campers reduce the number of people they inconvenience by dining late in the evening, thus making life miserable only for the employees who are hoping to go home.
For those late-night stick-in-the-muds, Nancy Longo, chef/owner of Pierpoint Restaurant in Baltimore has a special mix CD that she pops into the sound system.
"It's a funny CD, actually," she says. "It starts with 'Hit the Road, Jack' by Ray Charles, and gets progressively worse. 'It's Later than You Think' by Louie Prima, songs like that."
When you hear "turn out the lights, the party's over," take the hint.