Last week L.A. restaurant Red Medicine made national news when Noah Ellis, managing partner at the Vietnamese-fusion resto, frustrated with the number of tables left empty during a prime time Saturday because of people who had bailed on their reservations without calling to cancel, took to the Twitter. “All the nice guests who wonder why restaurants overbook and they sometimes have to wait for their res should thank people like those below,” he began, before unleashing a series of tweets listing the uncourteous customers by name.
No shows and last minute cancellations are common. And while most restaurant don't name shame no shows publicly, other chefs have tweeted complaints: "And now a message from the Noma staff: to the people of two different no show tables last night..." tweeted Chef René Redzepi last year, along with a photo of himself and the Noma team flipping the bird. (Honestly, who no-shows at Noma?). And pre social media, Chef Andre Soltner once personally called a no-show Lutece customer at 3am and said "My staff and myself are still waiting for you. Should we continue?"
But while those moments may be cathartic, they do little to solve the problem. Some restaurants keep track of no-shows which can effect future chances of getting a reservation. Some restaurants regularly overbook by 10-20% assuming that is how many people will no show. Taking a credit card and charging a fee for each no show works for some, and prepaid ticketing systems like the one at Chicago's Next are always an option. We want to hear from you, how big a problem are no shows in your restaurant? And how do you handle them?