A new pre-payment service called Bankuet is aiming to tackle both no-shows and food waste by allowing diners to select dishes from a restaurant menu and pay for them in advance.
The system, developed by app developer Stampapp.me, lets restaurants make their menu and booking system available to diners, allowing them to make a reservation and pre-pay for their chosen dishes using a smartphone.
Bankuet charges a monthly £24.99 for use of its service, with 10% of its profits donated to Hospitality Action.
It follows recent news of worrying numbers of no-shows, defined as people that make a restaurant reservation but fail to cancel their booking before not turning up.
While this was a problem before lockdown, the pressure put on the industry as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown has meant many businesses are running on a knife-edge.
Chefs Tom Kerridge and Paul Ainsworth have both suffered from the practice, with as many as 27 guests failing to turn up during just one service.
Some eateries, such as St. John in London’s Clerkenwell, have introduced no-show fees for diners who fail to make their bookings. Others, like Tommy Banks’ Black Swan at Oldstead, require a deposit when making a reservation.
Tom Messett, founder of Stampapp.me, said: “People often stump up hundreds of pounds in advance for theatre or gig tickets, so why shouldn’t restaurateurs expect the same commitment from their customers? It has been a challenging time for restaurants throughout the UK and many have had to be experimental and resourceful to keep running.
“As we get back to something closer to normality, we want to give restaurants and their customers a way of supporting each other. To give certainty to their customers and remove further financial risk for restaurants, Bankuet enables payment and ordering for meals at the time of booking.”