After the final order has been spiked, leftovers scraped from the plates and the last lingering punter ushered out the door, your local eatery becomes a strange and unfamiliar world.

Chefs emerge blinking from the kitchen to roam the floor after a long stint behind the pans; waiters sit at the bar with a knock-off; and the tunes quickly switch from the simpering of St Germain to something with a little more base.

This nightly ritual, unseen by even the most enduring of regulars, is key to a restaurant’s atmosphere. Here, Tim Grey goes behind the closed door of five Melbourne restaurants, Chin Chin, Mamasita, Pellegrinis, Sichuan House and Waiters Club to see what happens after hours.