The No-Show Big Table

I am a huge Newstalk radio junkie, Newstalk 1010 from TO to be specific. I got hooked on it when I lived in Niagara, and LOVE the fact I can get it online. I quite literally listen to it all day, as I am usually in the kitchen from 7:30 AM to 8 PM or so- recently a few of the hosts picked a topic that had been making a few headlines lately: some restaurants, an increasing number actually, are taking credit card numbers when booking a reservation for larger tables, with the intent of a charge if the table doesn’t show up for its reservation. Some restaurants have set fees, others depend on the size of the tables or maybe the whim of the GM- who knows…

I have never been fully decided on which side of the fence I am on because it’s really not a black or white issue. When I was in Niagara, I worked at a winery that served fine dining, which means that a reserved table is worth a little bit more money then the local diner- they had a fee for tables of 8 or over that they charged for no-shows: $180. I was there for 6 years and I saw this used once- middle of summer, on a Saturday at 7PM. The front-end managers were taught to be reasonable, they used their best judgement on it: TO traffic/ construction/ accidents, what day of the week was it, are they regular customers, the table number goes down, etc… The threat of being charged seemed to be enough to induce some sense into people to at least call if they couldn’t make it.

So, my last post was about a week ago- we’ve been getting ready to re-open the restaurant for Mother’s Day (today), and I don’t think that I have less then a 16 hour day since I posted last. Today was reservation only, $30 menu – kind of a let’s-see-if-we-can-make-a-little-extra-$$-before-we’re-really-open day. We are only a 26 seat restaurant, so a large table (10) is quite a bit of real estate- especially at noon. Our noon-time 10 didn’t show.

I had turned down reservations and persuaded other reservations to different times for this table. The lady lives in our community, and I would really like to go over to her house and demand our $300. We ended up with a few walk-in tables, which was awesome, but that’s not the point. I’m not sure how the good folks of New Brunswick would take to being charged for a no-show, and I don’t know if I could ever do that- I fricking well want to…

What irks me more then anything is the fact that there was no thought to the fact that we are a small business, and not a winery with 120 seats and corporate backing. That $300 comes directly out of our bank account. But we really can’t go over there and say that now can we?

The point of this whole rant is similar to the Farmers’ Market Etiquette- be aware of your fellow earthlings!!! A simple phone call would’ve alleviated this. What would happen if I invited you to a party and then just not had the party- how stupid would you feel showing up?

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