Chef Mark Greenaway, of the eponymous three-AA-rosette Edinburgh restaurant, has introduced a deposit scheme after recording 450 cancellations or no shows in just one month.
Greenaway said the decision was one he had “toiled” with but that the situation was “simply unsustainable”.
The restaurant will take debit or credit card details for all bookings and will deduct no shows £30 for lunch or £50 for dinner.
Announcing the decision on Facebook, Greenaway wrote: “Now this is something we have toiled with, believe me, and not something we want to do but as an independent restaurant we feel the time has come that we can’t simply ignore what is going on in the industry, so we feel we now need to act to put an end to this lunacy of customers booking tables and simply just not turning up.
“We already have a confirmation policy in place and confirm all tables of all sizes every day, however this changes nothing it would seem. To give just one month as an example in December alone we had 450 cancellations or no shows, this is simply unsustainable for our restaurant, there is nothing more frustrating than spending the whole week refusing custom, due to the fact we believe we are full on a given night only for at times three or four tables simply don’t show up, these are confirmed tables that we have staffed and prepared food for.
“The worst example I can give is last September: 22 customers in one night whom were all confirmed just not turn up or call to cancel, now when you consider we are a small independent restaurant only seating 42, and on the weekend feed 70 customers maximum, this makes a huge difference to the business and is the difference between making money and losing money.”
Greenaway said he hoped the move will discourage customers from booking two or three restaurants and making a decision on the evening.
He added: “Please understand we are doing this to safeguard the future of the restaurant not simply to be difficult.”
Earlier this week The Caterer revealed reports from restaurants across the UK that no-shows are “crippling” their businesses, as they revealed that many tables were left empty on Valentine’s Day.
Damian Wawrzyniak, owner of House of Feasts, Peterborough, has launched a campaign to combat no-shows after revealing they cost his business about £3,000 in just one weekend.
His #StopNoShow campaign has received the support of hundreds of peers including award winning American restaurateur Grant Achatz of Alinea, Chicago.