CORK restaurateurs have expressed mixed feelings about the idea of taking deposits for bookings as the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) put it forward as a possible solution for the ongoing issue of cancellations and no-shows.
Liam Edwards, who runs Jim Edwards in Kinsale and is president of the RAI, said it wouldn’t work for his business but there is a real need for booking deposits in the cities.
“It is a massive problem and I know restaurants who have been just hammered this year,” he said.
“We don’t get it in Kinsale as much but it is a big problem in the cities.”
The RAI would like to highlight the behaviour in the hope of educating customers on the impact on restaurants.
“With a hotel booking, people accept totally that if they cancel 48 hours in advance it is more than likely 50% of the cost will be taken.
“We just want to get that mindframe into people, rather than a casual approach. It is asking customers to let the restaurants know in advance.”
Bryan McCarthy of Greene's Restaurant is considering the policy after hundreds of cancellations in the run-up to Christmas and Mr Edwards said restaurateurs’ frustration is increased by knowing they could have filled the table many times over if they had a warning.
“A lot of these restaurants have waiting lists, it is very frustrating for them,” he said.
“It is their bumper time. The main thing we want to do is highlight the issue, and restaurants will work out what fits their premises.”
Ernest Cantillon, of Electric and Sober Lane, said they had systems in place to minimise no-shows but did not take money from diners who didn’t appear.
“It certainly was a big issue, and we had to get systems in place for it,” he said.
“We take credit card numbers for groups and have a policy of charging so much per head for a no-show but to be honest we have never charged anyone.
“It just doesn’t feel right. Two wrongs don’t make a right, we would be disappointed they cancelled but it doesn’t feel right to charge someone and I think if you do they will never come back — it will leave a bad taste.”
Pearse O’Sullivan also said they would not consider it at Toddies at the Bulman.
“I don’t think it is practical,” he said. “It happens but it has always happened, it is part of the business.”