Restaurant left ‘demoralised’ by major fake booking

Chef Gaz Smith revealed on social media that his restaurant Michael’s in Mount Merrion, County Dublin was the victim of a “deliberate and calculated” fake booking, and suggested that the culprit could be a rival in the hospitality trade…

In a long tweet, Smith said: “We have been let down/stiffed by what we believe to be a large fake booking for today [Sunday 25 June]. They strung us along all week with queries and increased the numbers over ‘n’ over. It was deliberate and calculated.”

“We spent so much time trying to accommodate them, rebuilding the table plans, ordering in extra food, especially for them, turning away genuine bookings for regulars and locals in the meantime, and then when it came to taking a deposit, they just tried to bluff it.
Only for a bit of intuition would we be left with an empty restaurant and lots of food left over, and a demoralised team. It’s so hard. We try so hard to make our guests happy, only to get shafted Yes, it’s our fault. We should have got a deposit from the get-go But they were so convincing they had us focused on menus and allergens etc,” the tweet continued.

Smith suggested that it might be something much more sinister than just a prankster playing a trick on the restaurant: “My own belief is that it was somebody in the trade being a snake, and I’ll get to the bottom of it…”

He then issued a call to his almost 39,000 followers to show support and book a table at the seafood and steak restaurant, with the intention of actually turning up.

While Smith did not provide evidence that a rival restaurateur was conspiring to sabotage his eatery’s Sunday service, nor name a suspect, the practice is not unheard of in the cutthroat world of hospitality. In 2014, Gordon Ramsay claimed that the opening of his Heddon Street Kitchen restaurant was disrupted by a jealous competitor who made 100 fake bookings.

The issue of no shows is a major problem for restaurants across the world. Paulo Airaudo of the two Michelin-starred Amelia in San Sebastián was taken to court by a man who was charged €510 for failing to cancel his reservation.

One thing that could deter diners who don’t turn up, both those who do it through ignorance and malice, might be bigger booking deposits, according to Oxeye’s Sven-Hanson Brit.

This article was originally published by the drinks business and has been shared with permission.

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