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Cancelled reservations at the last minute


davecap
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But I think a restauranteur has every right to run his or her place exactly as they see fit, and if they want to give themselves the right to speak harshly to someone -- well, the market will determine whether their virtues overbalance their failings and the restaurant stays in business.

Finally!

It amazes me that people here think that the owner (who answered the phone) doesn't have the right to run his own damm business the way he likes.

It's the reason most of us start our own business, in fact in my case, the only reason.

I am sure that Dave is looking at this thread and laughing his ass off.

I know I would be if I was him.

"Gee, I might have been rude to the guy but look at all the free advertising I just got."

No such thing as bad press.

I'm not sure that owning a restaurant gives you the right to be rude to customers any more than being able to afford your prices gives customers the right to be rude to you.

If a chef/owner was rude to me, I don't think I'd go back to his or her restaurant no matter how good the food.

Why would a chef/owner be rude to you in particular?

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But I think a restauranteur has every right to run his or her place exactly as they see fit, and if they want to give themselves the right to speak harshly to someone -- well, the market will determine whether their virtues overbalance their failings and the restaurant stays in business.

Finally!

It amazes me that people here think that the owner (who answered the phone) doesn't have the right to run his own damm business the way he likes.

It's the reason most of us start our own business, in fact in my case, the only reason.

I am sure that Dave is looking at this thread and laughing his ass off.

I know I would be if I was him.

"Gee, I might have been rude to the guy but look at all the free advertising I just got."

No such thing as bad press.

I'm not sure that owning a restaurant gives you the right to be rude to customers any more than being able to afford your prices gives customers the right to be rude to you.

If a chef/owner was rude to me, I don't think I'd go back to his or her restaurant no matter how good the food.

Why would a chef/owner be rude to you in particular?

Maybe you should ask the hypothetical chef/owner for the particulars. :laugh:

Seriously though, I sympathize with davecap, the original poster. It's hard to follow through on plans when you have young children. According to davecap's posts, his daughter is well behaved and he's had good luck bringing her to another "casual fine dining" establishment, Au Pied de Cochon. (Which given just how loud and chaotic that place gets, is pretty remarkable.) Looks like this time though his luck ran out. I just wish there had been better presumption of good will on the part of the owner, Dave McMillan seeing as he has a young kid himself. The whole incident has left a bad taste in my mouth and I don't feel as gung-ho about recommending Joe Beef as I did before. It's been suggested that an owner can run his or her restaurant as he or she pleases, as though running a business were somehow the same as free speech. It isn't. Once one engages in commerce with the public, one is subject to all sorts of rules and regulations as well as to expectations of professional conduct. One can't do exactly as one pleases or one winds up, sued, fined, jailed, or without customers. And though no laws were broken here, the professionalism did slip. I realize that last minute cancellations are a problem, one of many problems restaurant owners face. But they are not the customer's problem. We customers have our own problems. We are dining out in your restaurant not because we want to share in your problems, but because we want to forget our own for a while.

Edited by rcianci (log)
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I realize that last minute cancellations are a problem, one of many problems restaurant owners face. But they are not the customer's problem.

If it keeps happening, it becomes a problem for more than the restaurant owner. Regular no-shows in a small place are going to mean either higher prices to cover the empty tables or, in the worst case, a restaurant going out of business. I'm not a restaurant owner, but I'm not impressed to see customers treating restaurants in this way. If people think it's okay to do that, then they shouldn't be surprised if posters here tell them otherwise.

Of course, I'm not denying that the restaurant spokesperson here was rude -- he was -- but it's naive of customers to assume they can treat service providers any way they see fit, and continue to receive a smiling response every time. In this case, I perfectly understand the OP's situation, and I sympathise with it, but from my standpoint he treated the booking and the restaurant in a very cavalier fashion. It's not illegal, but it's not cool.

Incidentally, the over-booking policy being advocated simply will not work in every market. Plenty of customers (myself included) expect to be seated at the time they have booked. If I get to a restaurant and that's not happening, I won't stay long. Of course, that's a general comment and may not be applicable to Joe Beef's target market.

Si

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Incidentally, the over-booking policy being advocated simply will not work in every market. Plenty of customers (myself included) expect to be seated at the time they have booked. If I get to a restaurant and that's not happening, I won't stay long. Of course, that's a general comment and may not be applicable to Joe Beef's target market.

I feel the same way about this. I have 2 young kids and I get a babysitter when my wife and I need a night out for ourselves. I would not appreciate it very much if I have to wait an extra hour here or there to be seated if I have a res. simply because the restaurant needs to overbook to compensate for no-shows and last minute cancellation. Why should I pay more for a babysitter just for that reason? or eat at 9 if my res. is for 7:30? More restaurants should start the -widely accepted in hotels and such- policy of taking cc numbers and those who feel it is their right to make 3 reservations and show up to the one they decide on last minute can start paying or become better customers.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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The whole incident has left a bad taste in my mouth and I don't feel as gung-ho about recommending Joe Beef as I did before.

Hmm.. but think about it, you could recommend the place to friends you don't really like, who regularly show up late for reservations, just becuase you know there is a chance they could get a major dressing down.

I like it, I like it...

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There are many high end restaurants in NYC that take your credit card info and if you cancel at the last minute they will wham you. Joe Beef likely had to turn down a number of people who called earlier in the week or the same day because they were reserving that table for YOU!

Perhaps whoever answered the phone wasn't as diplomatic as he could have been but you must realize that your cancellation probably DID cost them $200.00   APDC is on a busy restaurant street and likely gets far more walk-in traffic than a destination spot such as Joe Beef.

actually, although many restaurants in NY have that policy, none of them actually charge you. (some of them even force you to fax in a credit card signature....but they still don't actually charge no-shows...they just threaten to)

I don't know what kind of walk-in traffic this place gets...but in NY, a restaurant would be gratified merely that he called so that they could then release the table...it's the pure no-shows that really piss them off.

Edited by Nathan (log)
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The whole incident has left a bad taste in my mouth and I don't feel as gung-ho about recommending Joe Beef as I did before.

Hmm.. but think about it, you could recommend the place to friends you don't really like, who regularly show up late for reservations, just becuase you know there is a chance they could get a major dressing down.

I like it, I like it...

Why didn't I think of that? Where's my phone list? :laugh:

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I am so glad that my business partner and I decided not to take reservations!

He formerly owned a casual fine dining restaurant in the space we now have together. At first, there were no reservations and things could get insane on the weekends. To help the kitchen and try to maintain a more consistent flow of seating, we finally gave in and started to take reservations. Immediately, the number of covers plummeted, but he sucked it up, reasoning that it would be worth it in the long run to get better service.

Then people started to not show up for reservations. We were a smallish (70 or so seats) restaurant in a town with a lot of restaurants, and people began to play "restaurant roulette". They would make multiple reservations and decide at the last minute where they felt like going. One Saturday when 27 people did not show up (I'll never forget this!), we made the tough decision to hold tables of three or more with a credit card. We asked only that any cancellations be called in before we opened for service that night. Although some people got angry with us, it really worked. I don't recall ever actually charging a card. The very few times that someone called at the last minute, we could tell that it was truly an emergency and of course, didn't charge them.

There's never a good reason to be rude to a customer, but I understand how it can be extremely frustrating when this situation happens. There really aren't any good reasons for cancelling at the time of the reservation, except in a true emergency.

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One thing I notice in this discussion is that it seems many industry professionals assume that food is their restaurants' primary attraction. I can speak for myself as a customer and for most of my friends: Your service is what matters most. Sure, food's incredibly important and it's understandable why a chef would assume it's the make-or-break thing. It isn't with me. There's a ton of mouth-watering food out there and while I might have an occasional craving for a particular dish, it's not really what gets my butt in a restaurant's chair. Scolding customers is Step One in creating a reputation that will deter me from becoming your customer.

It's sad that "passion and personality" are equated with being belligerent. Sounds like the Ramsay-ization of an industry!

If that's the way it's going to go, I've got two words: Take-out.

Given the likelihood that there will continue to be three-year-olds, no-show babysitters, nasty bugs that show up late in the day, and Bay Bridge traffic that made a trip take anywhere from 40 minutes to over 2 hours, here's my solution:

-Bitch about me. Behind my back. Loudly. Graphically. With hard-consonant Anglo-Saxon words.

-State your cancellation policy when the reservation's made. If you are going to require 24-hour notice, say so.

-Take a cc deposit.

-If all that doesn't work, don't take reservations.

I totally agree customers should be courteous. I made a good friend call to cancel when she was just going to blow off a res. Her reason for cancelling? "I just don't feel like being there tonight." She's a psychiatric nurse. She got hit at work that day. Given the stress level she has to deal with on her job, she'd have scant patience for somebody who loses their professionalism because she's canceling, even last minute.

Giving a harder time to people who call you than people who don't seems unfair. How likely is it that you will be called if people can complain, "But I don't want a lecture,"?

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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There really aren't any good reasons for cancelling at the time of the reservation, except in a true emergency.

A "true emergency" being defined as being hooked to dialysis or EKG machines or being in a full body cast in a hospital bed, I presume? That's what qualifies for me.

A meltdown from an overtired toddler with parents that lack presence of forethought does not qualify as an "emergency" in my book. That qualifies as a predictable end to the day's events.

The very doctors, dentists, lawyers and accountants that are appalled at the thought of having their credit cards charged for no-shows think nothing of charging you should you cancel or no-show for your scheduled appointment with them with less than 24 hours notice. What I can't understand is why they can't see how it's the same thing. Just because we all have to eat to survive doesn't make tying up the restaurant's resources (the free table at which another party might sit and pay) and cancelling without notice any less an egregiously rude thing to do.

Try hunkering down for a nap in your doctor's exam room and see how they feel about you then. Try throwing a tea party in the one and only dressing room at your favorite high end boutique and see if you remain their favorite client. It's no different. The folks that "camp out" at restaurant tables are guilty of this as well but at least the restaurant got paid by them once. The no-shows are just selfish and rude. It's a business, not a charity. And folks wonder why restaurants go out of business with such regularity? There is no other industry that's expected to "suck it up" and take it when shafted by their clientele. Even other members of the "hospitality" industry like hotels will take a credit card number and charge you if you dont show up, and no one bats an eyelash. Why should restaurants have to bear the economic brunt of the collective rudeness of a clueless and entitled clientele?

Katie M. Loeb
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Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

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What would some of you suggest the OP should have done? Go anyway and subject the other diners to a cranky toddler? There's a thread right under this one about children in restaurants and how they affect other diners' experiences. Would it honestly be better to go to a dinner reservation no matter what the extenuating circumstances are?

And I'm not seeing how requiring a CC deposit solves anything. I'm pretty leary of giving out my CC information unless I'm actually using it to pay for something, and I know many people who don't even have one. I'm always tempted to just make a number up in cases like this, and I imagine those people making 3 different reservations at the same time would do that. Being asked for it feels vaguely disrespectful to me, and it sets an underlying tone of mistrust.

Am I the only one who thinks it's beyond tacky to complain specifically about the "monetary hit" the restaurant will take? That says to me that the restaurant sees me as simply a big wallet attatched to a stomach, and much of the polish and finesse is stripped away. Like the reverse of a fine dining esablishment presenting the lady of a couple a menu with no prices. It cheapens the experience.

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

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Even other members of the "hospitality" industry like hotels will take a credit card number and charge you if you dont show up, and no one bats an eyelash.  Why should restaurants have to bear the economic brunt of the collective rudeness of a clueless and entitled clientele?

The hotel thing has been cited more than once as an analogy here, but not quite precisely enough, in my experience. Hotels generally charge you if you don't show up, and haven't called to cancel by 6:00 pm on the day of your reservation.

That seems a reasonable policy that gives both sides - customer & hospitality industrialist - plenty of leeway. Strikes me as perfectly appropriate for restaurants too.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

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Even other members of the "hospitality" industry like hotels will take a credit card number and charge you if you dont show up, and no one bats an eyelash.  Why should restaurants have to bear the economic brunt of the collective rudeness of a clueless and entitled clientele?

The hotel thing has been cited more than once as an analogy here, but not quite precisely enough, in my experience. Hotels generally charge you if you don't show up, and haven't called to cancel by 6:00 pm on the day of your reservation.

That seems a reasonable policy that gives both sides - customer & hospitality industrialist - plenty of leeway. Strikes me as perfectly appropriate for restaurants too.

6PM on the day of?? I've never seen a hotel that accepts anything less than 24 hour notice..most are 48 hours.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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6PM on the day of?? I've never seen a hotel that accepts anything less than 24 hour notice..most are 48 hours.

It's not that uncommon. Practices vary a lot. I've booked at some in resort areas that want 7 days in advance and I've stayed at many that are 6PM night of.

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6PM on the day of?? I've never seen a hotel that accepts anything less than 24 hour notice..most are 48 hours.

It's not that uncommon. Practices vary a lot. I've booked at some in resort areas that want 7 days in advance and I've stayed at many that are 6PM night of.

The important part of this for me as a customer is that I know what the policy is. When my hairdresser (who owns the salon) instituted a 24-hour cancellation policy, the staff told customers when they made the appointment. That, to my mind, was what made it fair. It's her business and her decision. I'd feel the same about a restaurant.

However, this is not what caught my attention about this thread. It was the restaurant's scolding the customer after failing (apparently, I may be wrong on this point) to state their cancellation policy. Right now there is no consensus or common practice on what a customer is supposed to do. Or be accountable for.

So I encourage restaurant owners to take as much guesswork out of it as possible; at some point, maybe we'll get to the point where most people "just know" what will happen when they don't give sufficient notice that they're canceling.

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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6PM on the day of?? I've never seen a hotel that accepts anything less than 24 hour notice..most are 48 hours.

It's not that uncommon. Practices vary a lot. I've booked at some in resort areas that want 7 days in advance and I've stayed at many that are 6PM night of.

The important part of this for me as a customer is that I know what the policy is. When my hairdresser (who owns the salon) instituted a 24-hour cancellation policy, the staff told customers when they made the appointment. That, to my mind, was what made it fair. It's her business and her decision. I'd feel the same about a restaurant.

However, this is not what caught my attention about this thread. It was the restaurant's scolding the customer after failing (apparently, I may be wrong on this point) to state their cancellation policy. Right now there is no consensus or common practice on what a customer is supposed to do. Or be accountable for.

So I encourage restaurant owners to take as much guesswork out of it as possible; at some point, maybe we'll get to the point where most people "just know" what will happen when they don't give sufficient notice that they're canceling.

"Customers canceling with less than 24 hours notice will be yelled at over the phone and talked about in vile terms for the rest of the night."

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There really aren't any good reasons for cancelling at the time of the reservation, except in a true emergency.

A "true emergency" being defined as being hooked to dialysis or EKG machines or being in a full body cast in a hospital bed, I presume? That's what qualifies for me.

A meltdown from an overtired toddler with parents that lack presence of forethought does not qualify as an "emergency" in my book. That qualifies as a predictable end to the day's events.

The very doctors, dentists, lawyers and accountants that are appalled at the thought of having their credit cards charged for no-shows think nothing of charging you should you cancel or no-show for your scheduled appointment with them with less than 24 hours notice. What I can't understand is why they can't see how it's the same thing. Just because we all have to eat to survive doesn't make tying up the restaurant's resources (the free table at which another party might sit and pay) and cancelling without notice any less an egregiously rude thing to do.

Try hunkering down for a nap in your doctor's exam room and see how they feel about you then. Try throwing a tea party in the one and only dressing room at your favorite high end boutique and see if you remain their favorite client. It's no different. The folks that "camp out" at restaurant tables are guilty of this as well but at least the restaurant got paid by them once. The no-shows are just selfish and rude. It's a business, not a charity. And folks wonder why restaurants go out of business with such regularity? There is no other industry that's expected to "suck it up" and take it when shafted by their clientele. Even other members of the "hospitality" industry like hotels will take a credit card number and charge you if you dont show up, and no one bats an eyelash. Why should restaurants have to bear the economic brunt of the collective rudeness of a clueless and entitled clientele?

I certainly agree with your sentiments towards no-shows, but just to set the record straight not all doctors charge or are able to charge for no-shows. In my practice it happens and I am left high and dry. I also don't routinely collect anything on cancellations. While some of that is the nature of the kind of practice that I have, I know that I am not alone in that regard. It is not a pleasant situation and I can certainly relate to the restaurant owner's feelings.

Just today I had a sort of reverse situation. My wife and I planned to get together with some friends at Blue Hill at Stone Barns and over a month ago each party made reservations. One set made the reservation for Friday night while I made it for a Saturday night as we weren't sure which would be better since we would have to work out travel logistics for the weekend we had planned. As soon as it seemed that we had a clear indication of what would work best, we decided to keep the Friday reservation, so I canceled the Saturday reservation. Well, situations change, and it now looks as if the Saturday night would have been the better alternative. I called the restaurant back to see if I could reclaim that reservation and of course, it had been rebooked with nothing available for that particular weekend. I wasn't surprised and I certainly can't blame them. The point is that I got burned for trying to do the right thing and release the reservation as soon as I thought we wouldn't need it. Had I simply decided to hold on to it until the last minute, it would have worked out for us even if it meant difficulty for the restaurant. If I had to do it over again though, I would still do it the way we did because it was the fair thing to do.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

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There really aren't any good reasons for cancelling at the time of the reservation, except in a true emergency.

A "true emergency" being defined as being hooked to dialysis or EKG machines or being in a full body cast in a hospital bed, I presume? That's what qualifies for me.

A meltdown from an overtired toddler with parents that lack presence of forethought does not qualify as an "emergency" in my book. That qualifies as a predictable end to the day's events.

The very doctors, dentists, lawyers and accountants that are appalled at the thought of having their credit cards charged for no-shows think nothing of charging you should you cancel or no-show for your scheduled appointment with them with less than 24 hours notice. What I can't understand is why they can't see how it's the same thing. Just because we all have to eat to survive doesn't make tying up the restaurant's resources (the free table at which another party might sit and pay) and cancelling without notice any less an egregiously rude thing to do.

Try hunkering down for a nap in your doctor's exam room and see how they feel about you then. Try throwing a tea party in the one and only dressing room at your favorite high end boutique and see if you remain their favorite client. It's no different. The folks that "camp out" at restaurant tables are guilty of this as well but at least the restaurant got paid by them once. The no-shows are just selfish and rude. It's a business, not a charity. And folks wonder why restaurants go out of business with such regularity? There is no other industry that's expected to "suck it up" and take it when shafted by their clientele. Even other members of the "hospitality" industry like hotels will take a credit card number and charge you if you dont show up, and no one bats an eyelash. Why should restaurants have to bear the economic brunt of the collective rudeness of a clueless and entitled clientele?

Sounds like people don't cut each other any slack whatsoever where you're from.

In Montreal, unless a restaurant has an explicit policy of "seatings", the rule in most high end places is that your table is your table for the night. You can sit there as long as you like without being guilty of anything other than having a good time.

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"Customers canceling with less than 24 hours notice will be yelled at over the phone and talked about in vile terms for the rest of the night."

"Gee, we have more no-shows than ever. I wonder why?"

Edited by rcianci (log)
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Admittedly few establishments have the drawing power to maintain this sort of cancellation policy. Nevertheless, I thought it would be interesting to look at how some of the ‘best of class’ restaurants are coping with cancellations. This was copied from Heston Bumenthal’s Fat Duck website:

CANCELLATION POLICY

Regrettably our experience dictates this precaution.

For parties of five and six people we ask that our customers give at least 5 working days notice. In the event this is not honoured we will charge £100.00 per person.

For parties of four we ask that customers give at least 72 hours notice. In the event this in not honoured we will charge £80.00 per person.

For parties of three and below we ask that customers give at least 48 hours notice. In the event this is not honoured we will charge £80.00 per person.

That's some pretty serious damage!! The original poster would have been out 240 GBP or in the order of $480 US. Under these circumstances somehow I think there may have been an afternoon nap (for the young child) pro-actively inserted into the program.

BTW, I know there are few restaurants in the world like Fat Duck and I'm not suggesting in any way that this policy makes sense for other than a handful of operators.

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Semi-serious question: I went to a popular, foo-foo steakhouse once and waited almost an hour past the res time for our table. I'm pretty sure we would have lost the table had we been the ones running late -- a cancellation, in effect. Should the customer's financial obligation -- whatever the restaurant's policy ends up being -- be equal to the customer's compensation if there's a problem honoring the reservation?

We got offered one free dessert for the two of us.

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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There really aren't any good reasons for cancelling at the time of the reservation, except in a true emergency.

A "true emergency" being defined as being hooked to dialysis or EKG machines or being in a full body cast in a hospital bed, I presume? That's what qualifies for me.

A meltdown from an overtired toddler with parents that lack presence of forethought does not qualify as an "emergency" in my book. That qualifies as a predictable end to the day's events.

The very doctors, dentists, lawyers and accountants that are appalled at the thought of having their credit cards charged for no-shows think nothing of charging you should you cancel or no-show for your scheduled appointment with them with less than 24 hours notice. What I can't understand is why they can't see how it's the same thing. Just because we all have to eat to survive doesn't make tying up the restaurant's resources (the free table at which another party might sit and pay) and cancelling without notice any less an egregiously rude thing to do.

Try hunkering down for a nap in your doctor's exam room and see how they feel about you then. Try throwing a tea party in the one and only dressing room at your favorite high end boutique and see if you remain their favorite client. It's no different. The folks that "camp out" at restaurant tables are guilty of this as well but at least the restaurant got paid by them once. The no-shows are just selfish and rude. It's a business, not a charity. And folks wonder why restaurants go out of business with such regularity? There is no other industry that's expected to "suck it up" and take it when shafted by their clientele. Even other members of the "hospitality" industry like hotels will take a credit card number and charge you if you dont show up, and no one bats an eyelash. Why should restaurants have to bear the economic brunt of the collective rudeness of a clueless and entitled clientele?

Sounds like people don't cut each other any slack whatsoever where you're from.

In Montreal, unless a restaurant has an explicit policy of "seatings", the rule in most high end places is that your table is your table for the night. You can sit there as long as you like without being guilty of anything other than having a good time.

Where I'm from is your basic large city with many many dining options. That doesn't make not showing up any less of an economic burden on the restaurant. Whether you're in Manhattan, Tokyo or are the only restaurant in a one horse town, if you take a reservation, you expect the customer to hold up their end of the implicit contract - "I'll save this table for you so you can eat and you'll show up and spend your money here without cancelling needlessly and preventing us from making money on another more reliable guest."

Every restaurant has "seatings" whether it's stated explicitly or not. No restaurant owner would expect to stay in business only seating each table once per evening unless they were selling some sort of overinflated tasting menu at $200 per head. If you and your dining companions came in at 6:00 PM would it be unreasonable of the restaurateur to rebook your table at 8:00 or 8:30 presuming you'd be gone? Two and half hours for a table of two to six persons is not rushing anyone. If your dinner took any longer than that I'd suspect folks would feel they were waiting too long between courses. And no doubt they'd then complain about that.

My point remains the same. That table is a money making resource to the restaurant, just as the exam room is to the doctor's office and the dressing room is to the boutique owner. Get a clue folks. Restaurants are businesses and not charities. They need to utilize their resources in the most profitable and productive manner possible to stay afloat financially. It's arithmetic, not calculus. Think about it. Why does no one grasp the obvious?? No one thinks twice about being charged for no shows in other industries. Why should restaurants be any different? Simply because we have to eat??? That's not a good enough reason. You could eat at home.

but just to set the record straight not all doctors charge or are able to charge for no-shows. In my practice it happens and I am left high and dry. I also don't routinely collect anything on cancellations. While some of that is the nature of the kind of practice that I have, I know that I am not alone in that regard. It is not a pleasant situation and I can certainly relate to the restaurant owner's feelings.

Doc, you might be the last of a dying breed both in not charging your less reliable clients and in being fair minded toward the restaurants. My doctor's office didn't used to charge me either, not that I'd ever no-show without at least a courtesy phone call, but apparently enough clientele abused the priviledge to make the rest of us have to suffer for their lack of courtesy and responsibility. It's an accepted practice in many industries. "Time is money" as they say, and most professionals charge for their time. Not showing up for an appointment with most doctors, lawyers, accountants or even hairdressers will cost you. It's simply accepted. I simply don't see a leap of logic to the "hospitality industry". Hotels do it all the time. The masseuse at the spa would charge you for a no-show. How is a restaurant different??

This is particularly more of a problem for a smaller restaurant. My current place of employ has 28 seats in the dining room. We don't get a lot of walk-in traffic because folks understand that we fill up quickly (at least on weekends) and have all those seats timed out like a military exercise. It isn't any less rude to cancel out at a larger restaurant than a smaller one, but it really hurts the smaller restaurant operator when folks no-call and no-show. Then we've turned down a significant percentage of the evening's business and couldn't even take those few walk-in clients because we didn't know you were planning to screw us over.

Has common courtesy gone the way of the dodo?? Is it too much to expect that folks would pick up the phone just as they did when they thought they were coming and let us know we could re-book those seats? Is it too much to expect that folks wouldn't plan a full day for their toddler and then hope to drag their overtired little asses into a nice restaurant?? Seriously??

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Get a clue folks.  Restaurants are businesses and not charities.  They need to utilize their resources in the most profitable and productive manner possible to stay afloat financially.  It's arithmetic, not calculus.  Think about it.  Why does no one grasp the obvious??  No one thinks twice about being charged for no shows in other industries.  Why should restuarants be any different?  Simply because we have to eat???  That's not a good enough reason.  You could eat at home.

I think one reason is that people eat out a lot and it's not such a special occasion thing so they treat it too casually. Also, eating out isn't really about eating, as in just ending your hunger. It's recreational much of the time. So if something comes up that affects your ability to have fun, like a cranky/tired companion, or bad news -- real but non-emergency stuff -- going might seem like a waste of money. And it's hard to always foresee when what was going to be fun will turn into not-fun.

I get it, though. From a restaurant's position, my not showing up without sufficient notice causes them to have wasted the table -- money, in other words.

I don't know if this has anything to do with it but a restaurant is one of the few businesses I can think of where I still expect very nice treatment most of the time. Hotels? Not so much. Travel, as in flying, isn't exactly smooth. For a reliably pleasant customer service fix, I can eat out. Or go to Nordstroms. That's about all I can count on.

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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I don't know if this has anything to do with it but a restaurant is one of the few businesses I can think of where I still expect very nice treatment most of the time. Hotels? Not so much. Travel, as in flying, isn't exactly smooth. For a reliably pleasant customer service fix, I can eat out. Or go to Nordstroms. That's about all I can count on.

Ingrid:

And you absolutely should be treated nicely. That's another part of the restaurant's obligation in the unwritten contract. This is in addition to holding the table for you as agreed, getting your food and beverages to you in a timely manner, having the items that are stated on the menu and preparing them appropriately and plating them attractively, so as not to cause food poisoning or an unpleasant dining experience, and having a polite and knowlegeable staff that can guide you through your dining experience. For the record, hotels and airlines should be treating you nicely as well. And most of the time those experiences cost a heck of a lot more money than a dinner out at anything but the highest end restaurant. Yet by your own admission, you expect less from them. What's wrong with that picture? :hmmm:

The treating of the dining experience as "casual" is definitely part of the problem. But it's puzzling to me that hotels and airlines have fees for no-shows or non-refundable tickets and no one seems the least bit outraged by that, yet restaurants are held to a different standard. I just don't get it.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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For the record, hotels and airlines should be treating you nicely as well.  And most of the time those experiences cost a heck of a lot more money than a dinner out at anything but the highest end restaurant.  Yet by your own admission, you expect less from them.  What's wrong with that picture?  :hmmm:

The treating of the dining experience as "casual" is definitely part of the problem.  But it's puzzling to me that hotels and airlines have fees for no-shows or non-refundable tickets and no one seems the least bit outraged by that, yet restaurants are held to a different standard.  I just don't get it.

Sadly, I'd call it the curse of competence; I expect less from those other industries because I can't trust them. Their area of expertise seems to be the Lucy van Pelt maneuver, the one where she snatches the football just away as Charlie Brown's about to kick it. Restaurants generally do better so I expect better. I'm not saying the picture's right, in terms of being fair.

Hotels and airlines are seldom stand-alone operations, as well. It's got to be easier to establish "rules" like fees for no-shows in a more centralized, corporate culture than in a loosely-connected community of independent restaurants.

And that brings up the issue of power. I've got about none when I'm dealing with Marriott (who Charlie Browned me so badly I almost went out and got a beagle) but the power dynamic's a bit more in my favor in most restaurants. As George Costanza would say, the customer has a lot of hand in a restaurant relationship.

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

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