Restaurant no shows seem to be resistant to Covid-19, having come through the pandemic seemingly stronger than ever.
As restaurants try to emerge and reopen amidst the ongoing crisis, people booking tables and then not showing up damage restaurants and the livelihoods of everyone working with them.
Many chefs and restaurateurs take to twitter and other social media bemoaning this behaviour, but that won’t change much as being chastised on twitter has little or no impact on people who don’t care one iota. Their behaviour will continue unabated.
Earlier today we spoke with one chef and restaurateur that is very focused on doing something about it, Adam Handling.
Learning last week that Handling is reopening his Covent Garden restaurant, Frog by Adam Handling, this coming Saturday and will charge a non-refundable deposit for each diner on booking, we wanted to learn more.
H&C News: What was the thought process in deciding to implement the deposit scheme?
AH: “We need to make money. We employ a large team of people and we have a big food and drink bill to pay every week. We have rent to pay and lots of other bills. Empty seats don’t make money.
“The maximum number of covers now is 45, down from 70, having rearranged spacing in line with government guidelines, reducing our revenue potential by 36%. So, any further empty spaces are just unaffordable.
“We have always had a £35 cancelation fee where less than 24 hour notice is given, and we found that is a good deterrent. Now we have increased the deposit to 50% of our tasting menu, £62.50, for every diner. It hasn’t stopped bookings, as we are already 100% booked out for August.
“The deposit system also has another significant benefit for us, we anticipate that people will spend more when they have paid a deposit in advance. We feel there will be a higher spend on both food and wine, in part due to the ‘final bill’ looking like less as 50% was paid in advance.”
H&C News: Do you intend to keep the deposit scheme long term?
AH: “Definitely yes, we cannot and will not allow people who have no regard for our restaurant, our team, and our futures to cost us money for their lack of knowing how to conduct themselves.”
H&C News: What do you say to other restauranteurs who do not have a similar deposit scheme in place that still suffer from no shows?
AH: “This pandemic has shown us how fragile our industry can be. Act smart to protect the future of your business and your employees – stop bloody whining and do something about it!”
We would like to thank Adam for his time, his insights, and his views.