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Chef Tired of No-Show Diners

Main Image 19 September 2016 | Adam Berry

A chef has spoken out of his frustration at no-show diners.

Alex Claridge took to Twitter to vent his thoughts on customers who booked tables yet failed to show up on the night.

The No-Show Effect

Claridge runs The Wilderness restaurant in Birmingham, and recently spoke out on Twitter when an alarming amount of people failed to show up for their reservation. 16 diners booked a table, yet failed to appear when their appointed time came.

 

"Last week, the cost of no-shows was about £2,000. People say 'don't be angry', but £8,000 a month is serious money," he said.

The restaurant runs a ‘no rules’ event on Monday nights, where customers are encouraged to pay what they feel the food is worth – or what they can afford. They were left with empty tables after the 16 reservations failed to show.

"People just take the mick. Hospitality is a two-way street," he tweeted.

He went on to explain exactly why the problem had him so bothered, and why it is a threat to chef jobs.

"My restaurant has 24 covers, so if a table of two doesn't turn up, that's 10% of our takings. If it's a table of four, that's 20%. If people don't turn up to Pizza Express, then it's probably going to be OK. But when you're a small business, with 24 covers, with a small and passionate team working hard then it's going to hit more. When something like this happens, it puts me off doing it. I just want to cook some nice food and make people happy. We do it because we want to make a fine dining experience accessible to everyone - it's inclusive, not exclusive," he said.

Positive Response

After posting a short rant on Twitter to vent his feelings, Claridge says that he was actually approached by some customers with apologies about their failure to arrive.

"I appreciated that," he said. "I know why things happen - life gets in the way. We are a business, but we are people too, so let's chat and make this work."

The response on Twitter quickly grew, with support and commiserations coming in from all sides. Claridge later on posted that he appreciated the support that others with food industry jobs had shown him, as they were able to understand the frustration he felt.

It also seems that some may be less likely to book and cancel again in the future, after his words hit home with plenty of diners who felt they could have been fairer.

Future Promise

It seems that Claridge isn’t going to be tolerating any no-shows in the future, either. With the ‘no rules’ event still set to go ahead, he called out to ask anyone who was not planning on going to let the restaurant know ahead of time.

Any others who failed to show or provide an excuse, he said, would be named and shamed on Twitter at the end of the night. He even encouraged his Twitter followers to “get the popcorn in” if the next event was going to end up being as bad as his last.

It’s clear that food jobs are at threat if reservations are constantly ignored, especially for small restaurants which may struggle to get by on a daily basis unless all covers are filled. Claridge has promised that if the problem continues, he will shut down his event and continue running the restaurant as normal on a Monday night instead of offering the chance to enjoy his food at a lower price. It’s a difficult decision, but one he likely has to make.

 

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