Case Study of the Week: Customers Overstaying Their Welcome

Mar 6, 2023

Business Ethics

You are to assume the role of the general manager and shift supervisor at Family Kitchen, a local family restaurant that is open 24-hours. The owner of the restaurant has asked you to analyze a new restaurant policy, determine if it is ethical, and provide a response. 

Family Kitchen is a new 24-hour restaurant in a college town. The menu features breakfast, lunch and dinner options that are reasonably priced. The restaurant has booths and tables that can seat a total of 125 people. The restaurant is busiest during normal meal hours but does have its fair share of clientele in between meals. The restaurant’s slowest time is during the overnight hours. 

When Family Kitchen first opened last year, management noticed that many college students used the restaurant as a destination for late-night studying. Study groups of various sizes meet at Family Kitchen after the dinner rush is over to work on projects or study for exams. It is not uncommon to see several tables and booths covered in notebooks, laptops and textbooks. The students order coffee and sodas, with free refills provided. If the students do order food, they order an appetizer to share and not a meal. Students spend hours working each night at Family Kitchen. 

The owner of the restaurant did not like that the college students were using the restaurant as a destination for studying rather than a place to purchase food. To solve the issue, the owner posted a sign on the front door and at the host stand that reads, “No Loitering, Limit One Hour.”   

The college students have taken offense to the new sign and feel they are being discriminated against due to their age. The college students have correctly pointed out that Family Kitchen customers that order meals, as opposed to just appetizers, are not limited to one hour. The college students also pointed out that the restaurant is never busy during the late-night hours, so their stay would not encroach on higher-paying customers. 

The owner of the restaurant has asked you to analyze the rule limiting customers to one hour. The owner wants you to determine if the one-hour rule is ethical and decide how to best respond to the situation. 


Randi Bibiano
Competitive Events Specialist

Randi Bibiano is DECA's competitive events specialist. In this role, she conceptualizes and authors role-play scenarios for the collegiate and high school division’s competitive events programs. She also manages DECA's online competitive events and serves as a liaison to volunteer efforts at DECA's educational conferences.

Discussion Questions

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Classroom Connection

Career CLuster:

Business Management and Administration

Instructional Area(s):

Customer Relations

Performance Indicators:

Demonstrate a customer-service mindset
Reinforce service orientation through communication
Interpret business policies to customers/clients
Assess long-term value and impact of actions on others