All Ikea cafeterias seem to have this sign that says, “Why should I clear my own table?” We have them in China, too (in both English and Chinese), but these signs seem particularly important here, because Chinese consumers are not used to clearing their own tables. Even at fast food restaurants like KFC and McDonald’s, we leave our trays at the table, and the staff has to come around to pick up the mess. This can be quite annoying when the restaurant is very busy, and you have to wait around for the table to be cleared before you can sit down. We sometimes get impatient and clean up the previous customers’ mess ourselves — which is not always pleasant.
Anyway, based on my observations, I would guess that Ikea cafeterias have about 60% success rate getting its Chinese consumers to clean up after themselves. Many just leave their dirty dishes at the table, and I can’t say I blame them: they’ve come to expect certain services from almost everywhere they eat, and not everyone goes around reading signs around the store. I mean, just look at me: even though I’ve only been in China about 7 months, I’ve already started taking for granted that someone else will clean up after me! Even at home! (I jest, I jest! Sort of.)