Trip Start Jul 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Monday, August 20, 2007

There are hundreds of dilemmas in the restaurant industry, some we are confronted with on a daily basis, others occur once in a blue moon, so what we wanted to do in the coming months, is touch on some of them and see what you think.
As a small restaurant owner, not in stature, although at 5'4" that might be debatable, over the years there are a couple that have risen to the top of the list. These are the ones that confound and piss us off, with one of the top contenders being tada... The No Show.
Now, if we were a multi million dollar franchised corporate conglomerate, this might
be considered so silly that it would get brushed off as yesterday's lint, but us, it affects.
Perfect example: last week one of our staff took a reservation for a couple, celebrating their anniversary, and was asked if we could make a cake, making him look good in front of his spouse, he might even be able to forfeit that $100 bouquet of flowers with this kind of a surprise.
Although we usually don't bake individual cakes, she said that she would mention it to me, and so she did, especially after he put on the charm .
Having a little extra time on my hands, who knew? I relented and decided to make a small cheesecake and decorate it for them, but as Wednesday 7PM, came and went, you guessed it, no Mr and Mrs "Anniversary". Wondering whether the server might have gotten the date wrong, but of course I knew the answer to that already, I called the lovely couple.
With nary a phone call to us to cancel nor an apology, Mr Anniversary said that they were tired and had just decided to stay home, not realizing that he not only No Showed, he had wasted my time that could have been put to better use than baking him a cake. Although I wanted, so badly, to give him a piece of my mind, explaining we could have given that table to another couple instead of holding it for them, I reeled in my initial thoughts and words and instead graciously explained why I had called them, and if next time they could be so kind as to just give us a quick call to cancel.
I think he truly did not consider the consequence of his inaction. Was it the
money lost for both the restaurant and the server that was the common denominator and
my peeve, or the fact that if this had happened on a busier night we might have turned away
customers or was it that I had given in to my gut feeling and spent the time making a cake?
Either way please don't No Show, whether you are a party of 1 or 10.
That brings up another trend we have been seeing more and more of: restaurants enacting a reservation fee. It was an interesting wake up call, the first time we saw this, in New York, about 8 years ago, and then again in Chicago and Miami, but during the past couple of months we have been to 3 restaurants in Tampa Bay, where parties of 6 or more are required to give a credit card if they wish to make a reservation. If, per chance, on the day in question, they decide to stay home and watch "24" or Boston Legal" instead, without the prerequisite advance cancellation notice, the card will get charged, $15-$25 per person (some with a $60 minimum, $120 maximum). American Express backs the restaurant as long as the policy has been made clear to the guest (the restaurants in question all said that they fax out a form letter that explains their cancellation policy and has the guest sign it). Mastercard, Visa and Discover are coming around as well.
We may consider it in the future, as we recently had a party of 10 make a reservation for a busy Friday night and then call us at the "nth" hour to cancel, at which time we had turned away numerous potential customers, on the phone, for the time slot this party had reserved.
For Special events Like Valentine's Day , New year's Eve we will only confirm a dinner reservation with a credit card guarantee, allowing guests to cancel up till 7 days prior to the date, without any Penalty.
Currently we also have a stringent cancellation policy for parties of 20 or more, pre-set menus, special groups, catered events, so maybe we will have to get on the bandwagon and also implement, for groups of 6 or more a policy that can be adhered to and that benefits us all. Something to consider.
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