How Long Are You Willing To Wait For A Table At A Fancy Restaurant? - Exclusive Survey

Few things compare with the leisurely, indulgent feeling of a night out at a nice restaurant. For once, you aren't rushing to prepare a meal, stuffing a granola bar in your mouth, or grabbing a sandwich from the closest option to your office. Instead, you can kick back, ponder the wine list, and let the anticipation build as you catch peaks of the delicious meals at the tables around you. It's an experience made for relaxation, one we are often willing to pay a premium for, but also one that can be undone by the sinking disappointment of an overcooked steak, or a botched order. And, one big thing that can turn off any diner is a long wait for a table.

We've all had the experience of our excitement over a nice night out evaporate as we're told it could be an hour or more before you'll get a table, an experience that has only become more common as staffing shortages continue to plague the restaurant industry. Even for the most patient among us, the idea of loitering around in a parking lot or sidewalk killing time for hours is enough to send us back to the car and through the nearest drive-thru. 

The promise of great meal at a place your been dreaming about for weeks might be enough to tempt you through that wait. But everyone has their limits, which is why we here at Tasting Table asked 588 people living in the U.S. how long they are willing to wait.

For most diners a half-hour wait is the max

When it comes to a lot of cooking, patience is a virtue, but it seems like most restaurant goers in our survey don't think that extends to fine dining. Over 80% of respondents said they would only be willing to wait 30 minutes or less (or not at all), with the most popular number by far being a 15-30 minute wait, the choice of 299, or about 50% of those surveyed. A further 26%, 151 respondents, wouldn't even go that far, telling us they ditch the white tablecloth in less than 15 minutes. On the extreme end were the 33, or 5.6% people who said they won't wait at all, and their inverse, the tiny 3% who would be willing to wait more than an hour. 

Some people are really dedicated to getting the meal they wanted and others are dedicated to not wasting their time, but who are we to judge? That just leaves the 15% who were okay with a 30-60 minute wait, but those people might be rewarded because wait times are often overestimated. In the end, everyone has their preference for the time a good meal is worth, and if the wait time is just too much, you could always try the secret tip of being nice, to get some preferential treatment.