Shaming no-shows: Does the bill include alienation?

In the end, it’s only the restaurant that will be hurt by naming and shaming


Just imagine going to the theatre and paying for your evening’s entertainment when the curtain goes down.

Or handing over a few notes as you pass out of the turnstiles once the final whistle has been blown in a Premier League match. Peculiar, no? Then why is it different for top-flight restaurants? Why should they wait to be paid until after the meal? Indeed, why should they be expected to buy and prepare food, polish the silverware and have staff on hand when often those who have reserved a table don’t show up?

It’s germane because in Los Angeles, one swanky restaurant has so tired of this practice that it is now naming and shaming no-shows on social media. This has been greeted with much supportive blade-waving by chefs and restaurateurs in Britain. The head chef at one of London’s hottest recent openings intimated a desire to go further and inflict violence on such miscreants.

Another, whose place is said to be booked out almost every night, announced that on a recent evening he’d had 30 no-shows. No wonder chefs are angry. The hospitality trade works on very tight margins and must walk a tightrope of having enough of their dishes while not being in a position to waste anything. This explains the rise of the irritating (for the customer) no-reservations restaurants.

One well-respected gastropub manager I spoke to said that often the culprits were hotel concierges, who book tables all over town under assumed names, so that they can show off to guests that they can “get them in” anywhere they like; then if no one wants a table, so be it, which is a rather brutal practice.

But what’s the (realistic) alternative? Naming and shaming will only hurt the restaurant in the end. The practice of taking a credit card on booking, with the proviso (as recently happened to me) that if I cancel less than 48 hours ahead of my reservation, £40 per person will be debited from my account, is outrageously bossy.

I don’t know about you, but I rarely get two days’ notice of the Norovirus, or my car breaking down, or my deputy calling in sick. Four hours’ notice maybe. I eat out as part of my job and know the passion and sacrifice that goes into giving us a plate of delicious food in a convivial room; I also know that sometimes it’s impossible to honour a reservation. So should we forget deposits and threats, and pay in advance? Can’t see the problem myself, but perhaps reluctance comes down to our squeamishness at complaining. If we pay for a meal in advance and it is disappointing, we should speak up and get a partial or full refund. But after two bottles of Malbec, a hanger steak and triple-cooked fries, perhaps we’d make a dog’s dinner of it. Respect is a dish best served hot.

Twitter: @lisamarkwell

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Riyadh is setting itself up as region’s policeman

Lina Khatib
Ed Miliband and David Cameron  

Cameron and Miliband should have faith in their bolder policies

Ian Birrell
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor