The Hare & Hounds in Bath had three ‘no-shows’ on its first day of post-lockdown trading on Saturday 4 July after customers failed to call in advance to cancel bookings.
Joe Cussens, managing director of the four-site strong Bath Pub Company, told The Morning Advertiser (MA) that he would be introducing a deposit system on bookings for weekend reservations moving forward.
“At the best of times, it is just selfish, rude, entitled behaviour and then given the financial situation that all these operators find ourselves in, the idea you can do something so damaging, careless, heartless, is just beyond belief," he told MA.
“You have got a reduced capacity and actually higher staff costs because the customer to staff ratio has gone down a lot so you're already in trouble there. The idea you can have a table lying idle which people were desperate for and you can't sell is criminal."
Cussens continued: “Of course, it [no-shows] has always been a frustration for restaurateurs but there's no even second thoughts about it, we have to put in some sort of protection otherwise it is just insanity."
As such, Bath Pub Company has decided to introduce a deposit system of £10 per head on Friday and Saturday services, with a four hour window for customers to cancel and retain their deposit.
"The thing about tables is that once they're gone, they're gone," Cussens added. "It's not like you can sell it again later or the next day you can sell twice as many. You can't sell that time because that time has gone and is in the past now. You can't recreate that table somewhere else in the day. Once that opportunity to commercialise that square footage at that particular time has gone, it's gone forever."
Call for consideration
Pubs were allowed to open for the first time in more than three months over the 4 July weekend, with sites adopting one-metre social distancing and implementing other Covid-secure measures.
Cussens was pleased with how the first few days of reopening had gone and said: "The vast majority of people are great and would never dream of doing something like that. They are horrified on our behalf. Overall, it has been a positive experience.
“Unfortunately it's part and parcel of what happens in this day and age which is very sad but you would have thought given the well publicised trials and tribulations of the pub industry that people would be a little more considerate.
“One of my other pubs didn't have a problem but I have seen stuff out there that people have had those problems."