After two holiday seasons of limited capacities and other restrictions, Winnipeg restaurants are looking forward to the Christmas rush. But a new problem is surfacing for some dining rooms –– no-shows and cancellations.
“Last night, we had four-no shows and five last minute cancellations,” Chris Howell, beverage director for South Osborne’s Tabula Rasa, told CTV News on Friday.
“At least with cancellations, we can adapt and prepare for walk-ins,” Howell explained. “But with no-shows, we’re saving this table for up to an extra hour.”
The tapas-style restaurant only seats about 35 people — meaning each spot is at a premium.
“It makes it tremendously difficult to adapt to and prepare for the evening,” Howell said. “It hits the bottom line.”
To combat the issue, Tabula Rasa — along with sister restaurants Sous Sol and Rudy’s Eat & Drink — has discussed imposing a no-show fee on all reservations as a way to hold customers more accountable.
“The goal is not to monetize or anything along those lines,” Howell said.
Howell said any fee put in place would only serve as a deterrent for last second cancellations and no-shows. He adds the restaurant group would need to consider different scenarios and ensure a fee would not be a barrier to those without a credit card.
It is a strategy already being pushed by Quebec’s restaurant industry, which is calling on the province’s government to alter consumer protection laws. A proposed change would allow restaurants to charge credit cards with a no-show fee.
Manitoba Restaurant and Foodservices Association chairperson Tony Siwicki said Manitoba does not have any laws in place to protect from no-shows.
“It’s up to the owner to put that policy in place and follow through with it,” Siwicki told CTV News.
Siwicki, who also owns Silver Heights Restaurant, said he isn’t sure if a no-show fee is the answer.
“You’re going to upset your customers,” Siwicki said. “You’re asking for that credit card, which is pretty personal information for a table of two or a table of four.”
Siwicki added most restaurants already charge a deposit fee for large group bookings.
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