26 May 2022

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Running a restaurant – no-shows could make or break you
Adrian Leopard 229

Running a restaurant – no-shows could make or break you

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Somehow the current trend of just not turning up needs to be addressed

Running a restaurant is a fiendish task at the best of times but the higher your intended quality, the more difficult it gets.

The reason for this is actually quite straightforward. High quality tends to be derived from using all the best and freshest ingredients. A bog-standard pub will no doubt make great use of a bottomless deep freeze. It is actually amusing to reflect on the new term we have learned from Chef Gordon Ramsay’s series in the USA where he goes into a restaurant he is vetting and he asks “is it fresh?” He gets answer yes and when it comes, clearly it wasn’t.

He beards the restaurateur with his discovery and she retorts “oh yes it is – it is fresh frozen”.

What is fresh frozen? I think it means it was fresh once, may be the day it was frozen. What do you think?

Anyway it is a well known fact that much less use is made of deep freezes by top quality restaurants – some do not even have one on the premises.

This brings an enormous challenge. If you are going to serve only fresh food, how much do you buy in? Will you have two customers tonight or perhaps twenty two? We know that food keeps fresh for a short period kept under the right conditions but not for that long and strict stock rotation is really essential.

But the main arrow in the restaurant owner’s quiver is his list of forward bookings. This helps him to work out just what he is going to need. So when someone telephones to cancel his booking, on the one hand this is really annoying because the calculations may be thrown out of kilter but on the other it could be a help because at least he knows he can release the table and take someone else in.

But it gets really bad when diners just do not show up for the reservations. New research tells us that no-shows in Britain cost the hospitality industry around £17.6 billion a year! What a sum and even divided evenly over all restaurants it is a formidable cross to bear.

Who on earth are responsible for this? Well the research goes on to tell us that over a quarter of 18-34 year olds do not arrive for their reservations.

Since the re-opening of hospitality following the pandemic it would appear that 14% of those booking tables have not turned up for their reservation and 12% have said that they would be more likely not to turn up than they would before the pandemic. And the no-shows are definitely in the younger group with 28% of 18-34 year olds no-showing compared with 1% in the over 55 age group. The likely reason is that younger people are definitely being seen to make many more bookings than older people and, as has been stated previously, they have a tendency to make several bookings and then choose the one they want to go to on the night.

Clearly this level of disregard for sensible process cannot go on. So what is to be done?

There is probably only one solution and that is to charge a deposit on booking. No doubt this would be regarded as unpalatable but it is done by some venues already and if you are a genuine diner, then you ought not to have a problem. The secret is to set the deposit at the right level – not so high that diners begin to think it is risky but not so low that diners feel they can afford to write it off if their inclination is suggesting somewhere different.

So far as the general public are concerned, unfortunately it is modern day attitudes that have brought this matter to a head and even more particularly at a time when businesses have got to recover from a huge body blow with the lockdown – they just do not need any more uncontrolled losses; the alternative may be their failure to survive and at the end of the day in that situation no one is a winner.

Adrian Leopard 03-09-21

Photo Lily Tran

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Adrian Leopard & Company is the trading name of Alderney Offshore Ltd, a company registered in Alderney, Channel Islands number 1220.

Address P O Box 1027, Alderney GY9 3AS

Registered Office Seldomin, Longis Road, Alderney GY9 3YB.

Adrian Leopard & Co is represented in the UK by 3CL (UK) Ltd trading as Adrian Leopard Associates.

Telephone enquiries may be made on 08449-4-08449 or 01684-230360.

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