Since reopening this month, many restaurants in England have complained of high numbers of customers failing to cancel their reservations.
Chef and restaurateur Tom Kerridge, who runs two-Michelin-star pub The Hand & Flowers in Marlow, took to social media to vent his frustration at the volume of no-shows at his London restaurant Kerridge’s Bar & Grill.
Writing on Sunday (12 July), Kerridge revealed that 27 people had failed to turned up after making reservations on Saturday night. He called the practice “disgraceful, shortsighted and down-right unhelpful”.
“This industry, like many others, is on the verge of collapse,” Kerridge wrote. “All of you ‘no-shows’ in all restaurants up and down the country are adding to the issues already being faced. You are putting people’s jobs more at risk. We put staff levels to the number of covers booked and when you fail to turn up, it now costs us, which in turn will force very uncomfortable and hard decisions about staffing levels. You are the worst kind of guest, and that is “selfish”. I hope you have good look at yourselves.”
His post has had over 30,000 likes and has garnered support from many other high-profile figures in the industry.
Clare Smyth of two-Michelin-starred Notting Hill restaurant Core said now was the time to “educate people”.
“Our industry needs to come into line with others,” she said on Instagram. “Staff don’t work for free because the guests don’t turn up. Ingredients are prepared and wasted. It is incredibly disrespectful.”
Chef and restaurateur Jason Atherton, who runs a global portfolio of fine dining restaurants including London flagship Pollen Street Social, said that ‘no-shows’ should be “ashamed”.
“Why does our industry get treated like this when a single phone call when you change your mind sorts all of this out?” he stated.
Despite the attention Kerridge’s and other’s posts have received, restaurants are still suffering from the practice.
Paul Ainsworth, who operates a number of restaurants in Cornwall including Michelin-starred Paul Ainsworth at No6 in Padstow, posted on Instagram last night (14 July) that he has also had problems at his gastro pub The Mariners.
“To those 27 people who thought it was OK not to show tonight and that no one would miss you. You are very wrong. We were ready for you. The restaurant rota had been written for you. The team were waiting to welcome and take care of you,” he wrote.
The restaurant group behind London’s Westerns Laundry, Primeur and Jolene; Manchester-based group Gusto; chef James Cochran’s 12:51 in London; and restaurant and wine bar Leroy have all confirmed problems with ‘no-shows’.
Speaking to The Telegraph, chief executive of industry body UKHospitality, Kate Nicholls, said that considering the impact of a government-imposed shutdown, and the necessary reduction in covers when eateries have reopened, “no shows have a much more material impact”.
“Behaviour that was always unacceptable is now potentially ruinous,” she said.
Many suggest the introduction of deposits, or even pre-payments, with a refund deadline may be the solution.