‘No-shows’ are hurting eateries

Restaurants feeling the impact of a growing problem

No-shows are said to be a growing problem

DINER ‘no-shows’ are having a “huge financial impact” on the restaurant industry, say chefs and restaurateurs.

Dean Banks, who recently opened his inaugural restaurant Haar within St Andrews’ five-star Kinettles Hotel, said no-shows have been “a recurring issue” since he launched his eatery.

One Saturday his restaurant suffered 14 no-shows, which Banks said resulted in £1000 of lost revenue, as well as staff and food waste costs.

He told SLTN: “What these people forget is that I have staff for that [booking], turned away tables for that – there’s a big domino effect.

“These are my big days; these basically fill up my revenue for the week – the weekends. I’ve currently got 13 members of staff; at the end of the day I’m trying to pay for these people’s livelihoods, plus my own – which I’ve not been able to do whatsoever yet – so with these people doing that I don’t think they really understand they could be affecting people’s jobs.”

In a bid to combat this, Banks has amended his booking system to require customers to input their bank card details to book a table and, if they then fail to turn up without contacting the restaurant to cancel the booking, they will be charged £25 per head, or £65 per head on Saturdays.

“If someone called an hour before their booking and said, ‘we can’t make it tonight’, just a call, we could sell that table again via walk-ins and we’ve got a waiting list as well now,” he said.

This was echoed by chef operator Mark Greenaway, whose eponymous restaurant Grazing by Mark Greenaway opened in Edinburgh’s Waldorf Astoria in April.

He said no-shows “have a huge financial impact” on the industry.

“When customers reserve a table, they are making a commitment to the restaurant, just as proprietors commit to having a table waiting for them when they arrive,” he said.

“Understandably, people will cancel for legitimate reasons, but the industry is justified in taking action on no-shows to help restaurants sustain a healthy business.”

James Rusk, co-owner of Rusk & Rusk – which counts Butchershop Bar & Grill and The Spanish Butcher within its portfolio of Glasgow restaurants – reckons no-show diners are a growing problem that is fuelled by the “slight facelessness” of technology.

“There’s definitely a trend of people not showing up for reservations at peak times,” he said.

“We still call every single booking through the week to confirm; we have our reservations and management team call everybody and we try to confirm as many people as we can.”

Similar to Banks, Rusk & Rusk now requires card details to be logged for bookings at peak times across all its restaurants; if customers fail to make contact and don’t turn up, their card is charged £10 per head of the booking.

But Rusk stressed he doesn’t want “a combative environment”.

“We want to make sure we can create a discussion with our customers,” he said.

“But there is a challenge here; I don’t have the answers to this.”