To avoid 'depressing' Valentine's Day service, Grumman78 closed its doors

Every Valentine’s Day, the restaurant is flooded with reservations, then about a third of them cancel and another third don’t show up, the restaurant's co-owner says.

Valentine's Day, Mother's Day worst for cancellations and no-shows at Montreal restaurants, restaurateur says

Grumman78 co-founders Gaëlle Cerf and Hilary McGown toast inside the closed St-Henri restaurant on Valentine's Day. (Submitted by Gaelle Cerf)

In an act of self-love, the team at Grumman78 has closed its restaurant this Valentine's Day.

"It ends up being a very depressing, soul-sucking service," co-owner Hilary McGown said.

"It's kind of an inside joke in the industry that the Valentine's Day service and Mother's Day service are the most depressing services of the year," she said.

Grumman78 runs a food truck in the summer and a restaurant in Saint-Henri year-round.

Every Valentine's Day, the restaurant is flooded with reservations, then McGown estimates a third of those who booked cancel and another third don't show up.

The restaurant closed Feb. 3 and instead of its normal 10-day winter break, its owners decided to extend the break to the Feb. 15, so they wouldn't have to tackle Valentine's Day.

"This year we said, 'You know, we're just so horribly disappointed, and we feel so disrespected every year that as an act of love for ourselves and our staff, we're just going to extend out vacation one more day,'" McGown said.

Why book and bail?

McGown guesses that since Montreal has such an abundance of dining options, customers can make multiple reservations, then just pick one at the last minute without repercussions.

For her taco-centric restaurant, she said, diners tend to be even more flippant about their reservations than at a higher-end establishment.

Hilary McGown and Gaëlle Cerf (L to R) at their food truck. They suspect the fact that they serve tacos may lead some customers to be very casual with reservations at the restaurant. (Submitted by Gaëlle Cerf)

She said that despite serving high-quality food, "when you put it on a tortilla, suddenly the cost of the meal is devalued."

She said that even a highly organized and successful restaurant can only expect about an eight per cent profit margin, so the chaos of so many abandoned reservations really puts a strain on them.

The restaurant's other co-founder, Gaëlle Cerf, said the situation wouldn't be so bad if the restaurant could sell tickets.

"Someone said on Facebook that we should charge $25 for a ticket, and if they don't show up, charge them anyway. Legally, we can't do that," Cerf said.

While the restaurant is closed, the co-owners and staff are taking the opportunity to show their establishment some love by cleaning, fixing chairs and doing inventory.


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