'Do the decent thing and cancel': Restaurants slam no show customers

Stephen Hutton, managing director of Middletons (inset) is considering a charge of £10 per customer

Stephen Hutton, managing director of Middletons (inset) is considering a charge of £10 per customer who doesn't show up for a reservation. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Restaurants in Norwich looking to reopen with a bang remain nervous of no show customers, which are on the rise once again.

With indoor hospitality finally able to welcome customers inside, bosses are finding tables reserved only for people never to arrive. 

The problem is especially difficult for smaller venues such as the Woolf and Social, which is seeing three or four tables a week booked but never filled. 

Owner of the Nelson Street restaurant, Francis Woolf, said: "Our reopening has been overwhelmingly positive - 95pc of our customers wouldn't dream of not showing up and we do have nights when we are fully booked.

Francis Woolf from Woolf & Social. Picture: Courtesy of Woolf & Social

Francis Woolf from Woolf & Social. Picture: Courtesy of Woolf & Social - Credit: Courtesy of Woolf & Social

"But with social distancing we only have thirty covers. We operate at about a 10pc profit margin. If a table of six books and we have to take a larger corner of the restaurant out then that's 10pc of our bookings for the evening. 


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"If they don't show up then the maths speaks for itself - we've covered our costs but made barely any profit for that seating.

"I think people are booking a table indoors and another outdoors and then are waiting to see what the weather does before they decide."

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Mr Woolf says he and his team do not want to take credit card details or deposits from people booking because it helps the setting feel more casual. 

His message was reiterated by Stephen Hutton, managing director of Middletons, which has steakhouses across East Anglia including one in Norwich's Timberhill. 

He said: "People just need to do the decent thing and cancel. It doesn't matter if it's even five minutes before but at least we know we can fill that table if we have a walk in."

It comes after a Lancashire couple revealed they had booked simultaneous holidays in Cromer and Fuerteventura to cover their bases depending on travel restrictions. 

Mr Hutton added: "I can't imagine booking anything and just not showing - it seems so rude. We had one night after the first lockdown where we had fifty individuals not show up for one seating. After that we started taking card details and a £10 charge per person who booked but never showed without cancelling." 

  • Has your business seen customers booking but not turning up? Email eleanor.pringle@archant.co.uk

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