In lieu of a dining review this week, Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema opened his mailbag to answer a few questions and address gripes from readers. Among the gems from Tom’s mailbag was this look at a restaurant’s struggles with no-show guests.
Mark Medley has been in the restaurant business for almost 30 years and says he has never had so many customers fail to show up after making reservations. The general manager of the 28-seat Atlas Room on H Street NE reports that five of 15 reservation-holders “did not call and did not show” on a recent Friday night, despite phone prompts earlier in the day from the restaurant.
Medley estimates the small business lost $1,400 that weekend — the equivalent of a cook’s bi-monthly paycheck.
What further amazes the restaurateur is the cavalier attitude some diners display when confronted with their lack of manners. “I hate to pigeonhole,” he says, but the under-30 crowd thinks it’s no big deal. The way he sees it, “missing a restaurant reservation is like missing a doctor’s appointment.” His advice to customers: “Once you know you can’t keep a reservation, let us know in a timely fashion” so that diners on a waiting list or walking in without a confirmed table can be accommodated.
Medley now keeps track of no-shows and their contact numbers and reviews reservation sheets to make sure they don’t become repeat offenders: “my naughty list.”
Check out the full file for more reader input.