Middletons restaurants considering £10 charge a head for no-show diners

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

A restaurant chain has said it is considering charging no-show customers £10 a head for missed reservations.

Middleton’s Steakhouse and Grill, which has eight sites across central and eastern England, claims up to half of reservations at peak times have been no-shows.

The hospitality sector has widely criticised individuals who make bookings and then never turn up – warning that it could have serious impact on businesses and their staff.

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Stephen Hutton, managing director of the group, said: “We put a post on our social media pages asking customers to tell us if they wouldn’t be able to make a booking. Even if it’s half an hour before the reservation it means we can at least try and get the table filled.

“Our customers were absolutely outraged that people would do that to us, and they were the ones that suggested we take credit card details when a reservation was made.”

Mr Hutton has said he is considering a policy which other restaurants have taken and charge bookings £10 per person for no-shows.

He said: “The problem is it’s happening a lot at peak times, like Friday and Saturday evenings. These are really important trading windows for us and a good night can mean payroll for the whole day is covered.

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“If we’re having evenings where say, 60pc of our bookings aren’t showing up, it’s inevitable that businesses will have to start looking at staffing levels and costs.”

Mr Hutton added that of the eight sites including Milton Keynes, Leicester, Colchester, Chelmsford, Watford and King’s Lynn, it was those in Norwich and Peterborough which saw the highest number of no-shows.

“We’re going to see how it goes this weekend across the sites and then if we need to implement the £10 charge we will,” he said. “You can cancel up to half an hour before booking, all you need to do is give us a call or press ‘cancel reservation’ on the email confirmation we send out.

“It takes barely any time at all and can make a huge difference.”