British Columbia

Vancouver restaurants call out reservation no-shows

The B.C. Restaurant Association is calling on customers to be courteous, citing industry-wide losses over reservation no-shows.

'It's a big problem, the impact is massive,' says restaurant owner who lost $2,000 on Valentine's Day

The B.C. Restaurant Association says reservation no-shows are costing Vancouver restaurants thousands of dollars. (Shutterstock/Leonardo Izar)

Vancouver restaurant owners are mounting a call for more courtesy from customers, citing an increasing number of people making reservations, but then not showing up.

Brandon Grossutti, owner of Pidgin Restaurant on the Downtown Eastside, said his restaurant has been fully booked for Valentine's dinner, but when the big night arrived, 20 of the 100 reservations didn't show up.

"We did a very special menu. So our normal prix fixe is only $55, but on Valentine's, we do it for $100 with more premium ingredients," he said.

"So just the cost of food alone, we lost $2,000. Bring in alcohol sales and things like that, it could be as high as $3,000."

'It's like a slap in the face'

"In a restaurant our size, that's a lot of money. That's a lot of money in tips for servers," he said adding that no-shows affect staff morale.

"It has consequences on all levels, not just financial. It's like a slap in the face."

Grossutti said if restaurants continue to see a 20 per cent loss on big nights, some simply won't survive.

"It's a big problem and it can slowly chip away at a restaurant to the point where they're not viable anymore."

The owner of Pidgin Restaurant on the Downtown Eastside says reservation no-shows cost them $2,000 in food alone on Valentine's Day. (Manusha Janakiram)

No obvious answer

Ian Tostenson of the B.C. Restaurant Association says there is no simple solution.

"Short of some sort of government decree, which will never happen, I think we should probably just start with educating people," he said.

"The easiest solution is to be sincere. If you're not going to show up, at least phone and give the restaurant some heads-up so they can try to fill that table."

Tostenson pointed out some restaurants in the city now require a deposit with a credit card ahead of time, but he doesn't think that's the answer for everyone.

Dine Out deposits?

But with many restaurant owners pointing to Dine Out Vancouver as one of the worst times for no-shows, he thinks that might be an exception to bring in new rules.

"It would be easier to do it around a dining event because it's a bit more controlled, there's set pricing...I don't think the public would mind."

Tostenson acknowledged no-shows are more of a problem now than they used to be.

"Before, there wasn't as much competition ... But Vancouver has become such a culinary gem now, so the exposure and demand has gone up for so many of these iconic restaurants."