No show diners a big cost to restaurant owners

‘‘NO shows’’ are costing some Hunter restaurant owners hundreds of dollars a night in wages and wasted produce as diners make bookings, sometimes for large groups, fail to turn up, or arrive with half the number of people they had booked for.

Restaurateurs who spoke to the Newcastle Herald said ‘‘no shows’’ were an expensive and regular occurrence which was embarrassing for operators and could cost at least one wage for the night.

In a business that runs on tight profit margins, a couple of parties failing to show can wipe out a night’s takings and result in produce, prepped for a fine dining experience, dumped in the garbage with the evening’s scraps.

While some operators understand that occasionally diners may be caught up in personal situations and genuinely forget about their bookings, others said there were many who failed in the manners stakes and just couldn’t be bothered to cancel.

‘‘All we’re asking for is some manners and common courtesy,’’ said NSW Restaurant and Catering Association Hunter representative Jennifer Nichols.

Mrs Nichols who also owns the Old George and Dragon Restaurant at East Maitland said she had spoken to colleagues about the ‘‘no show’’ issue and how it is affecting their businesses.

‘‘The policy of taking [details] and charging credit cards for no shows appears to be the most common practice put in place by other restaurants in the Hunter,’’ she said.

‘‘As with all retail type businesses at the moment, the restaurant industry is facing increasing costs with industry benchmarks for wages jumping from 30per cent to 40 and 44per cent.

‘‘Food costs have risen dramatically as has electricity, gas insurances and even overheads such as waste removal,’’ Mrs Nichols said.

Mrs Nichols’ restaurant has a 50 seat capacity and recently on a Saturday night a table of 14 phoned half an hour before their booking time to cancel.

‘‘On that particular night, that represented about 35per cent of our guests,’’ she said.

Alex Morphett of 221 Restaurant and Bar at the Royal Oak Hotel Cessnock said regular ‘‘no shows’’ could kill a restaurant.

On one occasion, a party of 40 booked and the restaurant was redesigned to accommodate the group and an extra chef and additional floor staff were brought in.

When only half the group arrived the tables had to be broken down and rearranged.

The incident cost an estimated $600 in losses.

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