Charlie Mellor: "Restaurants are cultural institutions and should be respected as such"

By Restaurant

- Last updated on GMT

Restaurants chefs no shows London #nomorenoshows Manchester

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More chefs and restaurants have added their voices to the current no-show debate following Tom Kerridge’s public slamming of people who failed to honour their bookings as “disgraceful” and “short-sighted”.

Kerridge’s comments on social media ​have been widely supported by restaurant businesses that are already having to reduce the number of customers they can serve because of Government distancing guidelines.

While the problem of no shows in restaurants is not a new phenomenon, restaurant owners say that the current difficult trading environment makes them more damaging to business than ever before

“No-shows in restaurants have been an escalating issue for some time, but is now a crucial one,” says Charlie Mellor, owner of The Laughing Heart​ in Hackney.

Mellor says that now shows don’t just hit a restaurant’s the bottom line but that in this time of social distancing they can have a significant impact on the atmosphere of a dining room, which is a crucial element of any restaurant operation.

“Every penny truly counts right now, but so do vibes,” he says. “If three tables in a restaurant of nine tables just don’t show up, what impact do those giant, already ‘distanced’ holes have on the atmosphere for the guests?

“What about the workers who are putting themselves out there and deserve to be considered, or the person at home who couldn’t book that in-demand space to celebrate a special occasion?

“If you buy a ticket to the theatre and decide not to attend, you still have to pay the price of admission. Restaurants are cultural institutions and should be respected as such.”

A challenging climate

Tugend Demir, food and beverage manager at five-star hotel The Prince Akatoki​, which is home to the Japanese inspired restaurant TOKii, also says that no shows in the current climate are especially challenging.

“During these unprecedented times, restaurants have reduced their covers due to the social distancing rules so guests showing up for their bookings is very crucial to the survival of a business and their employees post Covid-19,” he says.

“Our restaurant TOKii has a new capacity from originally 81 covers to 54 due to the new 1 metre plus rule. Combining this with a no-show ratio of 10-15% will make it more challenging.”

The current inability for restaurants to take walks in because of distancing guidelines also means that restaurants are struggling to fill gaps created by no shows that otherwise might not have been a challenge.

London-based Aqua Restaurant Group would traditionally overbook in peak times to counter the impact of no shows, with customers directed to the bar area, but says it cannot do this in a post-lockdown environment.

“Sadly, no-shows are a common occurrence across our sector which we would ordinarily be able to mitigate by overbooking certain time slots and asking our guests to wait in the bar,” says a spokesperson.

“This is much more of a problem at the moment where all restaurants are operating restricted capacities so we encourage our guests to give as much notice as they can should they need to cancel.”

Appealing to customers

In a bid to tackle the issue of no shows, a campaign called #NOMORENOSHOWS is launching later this week for restaurants in the Greater Manchester area.

Created by hospitality recruitment consultancy Sixty Eight People and Antonia Lallement from restaurant group Gusto Italian, the campaign is appealing to customers to consider the ramifications to businesses of not showing up to their reservations.

Restaurants in the Greater Manchester area are being encouraged to post a #NOMORENOSHOWS tile on Instagram, calling on people to following to notify a restaurant is their plans change, rebook where possible, and encourage friends and family to do the same.

The campaign follows last week’s announcement by Gusto that it had 270 no shows across its nine re-opened restaurants on the first Monday after lockdown was lifted (6 July).

On the weekend the group behind London restaurants Jolene in Hackney and Westerns Laundry in Highbury said it had increased its no show cover charge policy from £10 per head to £50 a head because of the number of no shows it has experienced.



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