Why haven't 24 hour diners taken off in Australia the way they have in the US

My wife and I went to visit some friends on the other side of town not long ago, and as we were driving back fairly late we both realised we were actually quite hungry (having not had dinner and food at our friend’s place had been of the chips/dip/cocktail spring rolls variety), but- since it was about 11:30pm at night- our food options were either McDonalds or a long, complicated, and inconvenient detour to the CBD in the hopes there’d be a trendy cafe type place still open.

And, as I have often wondered before, I wondered why there aren’t any 24 hour diner places like Denny’s or IHOP here in Australia- at least, as far as I’ve been able to find.

Sure, you might find a cafe somewhere trendy that’s open 24 hours that can whip you up an overpriced steak sandwich or some wanky (and still overpriced) Thai beef and prawn salad with sweet chilli vinaigrette, but it seems to me that unless you want Maccas, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, or Petrol Station Pies/Sausage Rolls, there’s bugger all to eat in this country after about 10pm.

Now, one of the things I liked about visiting the US was being able to wander into a IHOP or Denny’s or Johnny Rockets any time of day and get a decent* meal at a reasonable price. But you can’t do that here, for the most part.

What’s really strange is that there apparently used to be things like Johnny Rockets and Denny’s in Australia decades ago, but they closed down for reasons no-one ever seems entirely sure of. Now, I realise Australia doesn’t have the population that the US does, but if Canada (same population as Australia, larger area) can manage to have some 24 hour diner places outside the CBDs of a handful of cities, then surely Australia can too.

Anyway, I thought it might make an interesting change of pace to have a discussion on why there are virtually none of these places in Australia when they’re very widespread in the US and Canada.


*Yeah, I know, everyone on the SDMB except me hates chain restaurant/diner food. Save your breath, consider the point duly acknowledged and ignored

Well the 24 hour diner in the U.S. largely started for truckers and others on Cross country trips where they didn’t want to sleep.

Pulling a guess out of my ass, maybe that tremendous lump of void in the middle of your country caused a different highway culture which never led to a 24 hour being as profitable in general locations.

Where do third shift folks eat there? Mcdonalds everyday?

They aren’t normal everywhere here, either. I live in a factory town, and since the factories run round the clock, there are restaurants open to serve them. Other places I’ve visited, not so much. Truck stops generally are 24 hour, but always in areas with heavy truck traffic and/or by freeways.

What do people do after closing the bars if there’s no greasy spoon to go to for bacon and eggs at 2 in the morning? :wink:

Kebabs, Petrol Station Pies, or Maccas, basically.

That’s the problem- there isn’t really anywhere to get a decent meal after 10pm or so.

When I worked nightfill (really odd hours) you basically had to eat before you came to work and either bring something from home to cook at work in the microwave, or wait until you got home again. If you were lucky (or not, depending how you viewed the hours) you might be able to find a McDonalds serving breakfast from 5am, though.

Dutch sit-down and be served- restaurants will almost all shut down after 11 PM, and the kitchen will close 30 minutes before that. The city usually has a mandatory closing hour for restaurants of 24.00, and about 3 AM for bars.

However, the nightly hungry can go to one of the ubiqutous “fritures” . Those are open to about 1, 2 AM in places with bars that stay open late. Fritures offer a greasy and filling range of deep fried snacks: potato chips/sticks, meatballs, etc.

Places with nigh shifts usually have a mess hall indoors, catered by the employer.

As noted 24 hour places aren’t extremely common in the US, either. I’ve been surprised how hard it sometimes is to find an after-hours bite in what I thought was a major US metropolitan area. My local IHOP, for instance, isn’t 24 hours. There are very few 24 hour joints near where I live. (But when I lived in Salt Lake City many years ago, I was within two blocks of half a dozen 24 hour establishments. Go figure)

On my visit to Australia’s east coast, I was surprised at how everything seemed to shut down so early. For a place that looks so much like the US, it seemed incongruous (and I had to go hungry a few evenings too, when I forgot about it). In Childers, a town on the main coast road with a huge amount of traffic to take advantage of, the chippy and the pub both shut at 7pm. And there was nothing else open. My account of the experience.

Depends on the culture of the city more than the country. Pancakes on the rocks is the old standby but there’s quite a few places on Oxford St which, IIRC are open 24 hours. If you’re out in the suburbs, I doubt there’s many cities in which you’ll find 24 hour dining.

After a hike, a bunch of us stopped at Arlington, WA (Washington State, not Western Australia) to grab a few beers and I was feeling a bit peckish so I asked the bartender where we could grab some food. She thinks for a bit and goes “at this time of night, you’re only choices are these two mexican places”. It was 7pm on a Saturday night.

That’s about par for regional Australia, IME. There’s Service Centre petrol stations on the major highways now but besides that, basically outside the cities after 7or 8pm all bets are off.

It’s completely insane that in major cities there’s almost nowhere outside the CBD open after 10pm. Even in the centre of Melbourne (Australia’s second largest city and arguably it’s cultural capital) my wife and I had to go the Casino one night to find something to eat that wasn’t a dodgy kebab or overpriced slice of pizza. I just find it odd that Krispy Kreme can stay open till 2am but somehow they can’t manage to make a Dennys or an IHOP or something like that work in this country.

I realise that 24 hour opening might not be as commonplace in the US as I previously thought (I’m usually in tourist destinations), but even in slightly less touristy destinations I’ve rarely had trouble getting something to eat at say midnight or 1am.

Just a quick correction in the effort of fighting ignorance, Australia’s population is about 21 million where as Canada’s is approximately 50% larger at 33 million.

As for the question, personally I think it’s because there’s hardly anyone out and about after midnight who is looking for a proper meal. That is, other than people getting pissed and then stumbling about for a kebab or servos’ dodgy pies or microwave chicken rolls.

The other point would be that we seem to be fans of really shithouse fast food, small local sandwich shops, and then the usual trendy restaurants & cafes. We collectively don’t seem to be big fans of middle-of-the-road chain restaurants. Weird. I can’t really explain it in a society that stumbles between the sad, wilted, pathetic, bland grease-covered shit that is Maccas and the high-end trendy cafes & restaurants. Weird.

Part of it might have to do with the cost structure. Wait staff are more expensive to the employer in Australia because of the higher pay levels. In the US, keeping a wait person on all night is next to free, and my ex-wife used to wait tables over the night shift because of the great tips from drunks. Combine higher costs for employers, and lower earnings for employees who aren’t being tipped and it might be hard to get someone to work at 4 in the morning.

And my problem isn’t you liking chain food (your choice), but is in equating diner food with chain food. The bestest diners are the small independent ones, like the Wafle Shop down the street from me. Seriously, that sign must have been up 30 years and you cannot correct the spelling yet?

If Maccas can manage, so could a diner- or at least, you’d think so.

I’m not disagreeing with you, but as mecaenas notes, we don’t even have the small independent diners either- it’s Maccas, Kebabs, and Fish & Chips or Ultra-Trendy Cafes for the most part. It’s really odd and inexplicable.

It’s my impression that in general everything in Australia is open for shorter hours (on average) than in the U.S. The lack of places to eat after a certain hour is just part of the lack of anything else open late. Is this not true?

Good point. Do restaurants in Australia pay their staff more than McD’s do?

Not in my experience, no. I got paid about the same to work at McDonalds as I did to work in a pub, and my friends who have worked in restaurants said the pay was about the same.

And yes, things are generally open shorter hours here than they are in the US, but in Melbourne and Sydney there are 24 hour supermarkets in some places.

Does Oz have all-night grocery stores?

In some places yes, but they’re bloody expensive and generally only for tourists or people who are too drunk to know better.

Do they not have the majestic House of Waffle where you are?