Brasserie and cocktail lounge Dine said it lost close to £2,700 in revenue and wasted around £400 worth of food last week, owing to no-shows.
No-shows in numbers
The restaurant industry could be losing out on up to £16bn in revenue every year from no-shows, according to 2016 figures from online reservation system ResDiary.
Last year the average restaurant lost 11.8 full bookings per month through no-shows, according to the same source.
The burden of cancellations has meant the number of venues taking a form of payment protection has risen. There was a 40.1% increase in businesses using methods like ticketing, deposits, storing card details to charge the card if they fail to show in 2018.
The Edinburgh business tweeted that such cancellations were unfair burdens on small businesses - and asked its customers whether it would be a good idea to introduce a deposit system.
Dine owner Paul Brennan explained: “As a small independently-owned brasserie specialising in freshly made seasonal fare, we, like many other small owner-operators, buy in fresh produce for the day ahead.
“When customers book a table we rely on them turning up, especially when it’s for a special one-off menu or event, and we contact all customers in advance to check they can still make their booking and send reminder emails.”
A Valentine’s Day signature menu which involved an exclusive four-course gourmet experience including fresh prawns and chateaubriands was “quickly booked”, Brennan said.
Even with the bar contacting all customers on the day and receiving confirmations of attendance, 36 diners failed to turn up or cancelled late.
The venue also had to send staff home.
The operator went on: “Indeed, one customer who we managed to contact told us he had made three restaurant bookings so he could decide on the night what he felt like doing.
“It was extremely disappointing, a massive dent in our takings, but sadly not the first time this has happened – we had a similar situation during the festive period and during some Six Nation games.
“We decided to create a poll on social media to ask our customers what was the fairest way to operate and if they were happy for us to ask for deposits.”
We are a small owner operated business and last night over 30 people failed to show or cancelled late and we needed to send staff home.— Dine Edinburgh (@DineEdinburgh) February 15, 2019
Do you think it’s fair for restaurants to take a deposit?#restaurants#edinburgh#today#cancellations
Customers responded to the venue's Twitter poll warmly, with 57% happy with a deposit and 34% happy to supply a credit card for bookings.
Dine will take credit card bookings for tables over six to safeguard its bookings and revenues - with exclusive evenings and Gala events ticketed - going forward.