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Beverly Hills restaurant no shows roasted on Twitter

By John Rogers

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 06:43 p.m. HST, Apr 03, 2013


LOS ANGELES >> When 20 percent of your dinner reservations don't show, what's a restaurant owner to do? Usually nothing; it's an unsavory fact of restaurant life that not everyone who says they'll be there, will.

But one Beverly Hills restaurant owner decided enough was enough, taking to Twitter to publicly call out those who skipped out on their reservations on a recent busy Saturday.

"I hope you enjoyed your GF's B-day and the flowers that you didn't bring when you no-showed for your 8:15 res.," read one tweet.

Noah Ellis, co-owner of Red Medicine, sent that and another tweet naming several other people. He took the unusual step after turning away walk-up customers because he thought his 50-something-seat restaurant was booked solid during the popular 6:30-9 p.m. window, and forcing loyal customers to book earlier or later times.

"We lost 20 percent of our total reservations on Saturday and a huge chunk of our prime-time bookings," he said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. "Most diners don't realize the impact no-shows make on a restaurant."

Ellis' move prompted a torrent of mixed reactions, with some saying the customers' thoughtless behavior warranted public embarrassment and others saying the owner stepped over the line and his business will suffer. Within hours of Ellis' tweets on the Red Medicine Twitter account, several one-star reviews of the popular restaurant went up on Yelp.

"Not showing is rude, though I get the feeling that this guy has a screw loose," offered one critic.

Another person tweeted back to Red Medicine, saying the restaurant would feel badly if the two dozen or so no-shows were in an accident on the way there.

Ellis was having none of that. "All of them?" he asked in response.

Fellow restaurateurs defended him for his boldness, although many quickly added it's not something they would do.

"You can pretty much guarantee that those people will not be coming back into your restaurant," said Carrie Welch of Little Green Pickle, which handles publicity and promotions for some two dozen restaurants in Portland, Ore.

Red Medicine generally won praise, however, for pointing out a problem that has long vexed the restaurant industry. The problem has only grown with the ease of online and email reservations.

"I take a lot of reservations, and I'd say at least 10 percent don't show and don't call," said Lenny Rosenberg, who runs a West Los Angeles eatery called Lenny's Deli. He chalks it up as a cost of doing business.

Some restaurants, like the popular small Cajun seafood chain Boiling Crab, won't take reservations or even seat people until everyone in their party is at the front door. Other places have tried taking a credit card deposit with the reservation.

Still others overbook and hope they won't rue the day when everyone who made a reservation actually shows up.

Ellis said he's looked into all those options, but for now he'll stick with taking reservations and expecting people will honor them.

It's not the first public controversy for Ellis. Two years ago he was so unhappy with Los Angeles Times food critic S. Irene Virbila's reviews that he posted her picture on Twitter so other restaurateurs would be able to see her coming.

Outing a critic who normally works undercover prompted a similarly disparate response, with some praising Ellis and others condemning him.

It's unclear whether Ellis will continue outing those who don't honor reservations.

All the attention has driven him underground. He declined an in-person interview request, issuing his statement and responding to questions through a public relations firm, which is now handling media inquiries.

The seemingly intractable problem he and every other owner is up against is that it's common knowledge that for a big-deal date like a birthday or anniversary a person will book reservations at three or four places and then let the individual being feted make the final choice at the last minute, said Angie Pappas of the California Restaurant Association.

Boyfriends are the main culprit, she said, because they want to ensure their dates are happy with the evening.

"I don't think it's a malicious act," Pappas added. "I think it's mostly a case of indecisive boyfriends."







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SueH wrote:
""You can pretty much guarantee that those people will not be coming back into your restaurant," said Carrie Welch of Little Green Pickle, which handles publicity and promotions for some two dozen restaurants in Portland, Ore." WHAAT? They didn't show up in the first place, so what twisted logic makes this pubicity and promotions "genius" say with earth shaking surety they "will not be coming back"? Of course they won't. Is she paid to blither such nonsense?
on April 3,2013 | 10:37PM
kuewa wrote:
Particularly for high-end restaurants with low walk-in numbers, why not use the same system as hotel bookings? Require a credit card or cash deposit at booking, then charge a pre-set late-cancellation or no-show fee.
on April 4,2013 | 12:52AM
jtamura69 wrote:
The owner should get mad about no shows. Why? Because it's not like back in the day when a persons word was their bond. Now days no one can be trusted to tell the truth. It's rare to find someone who does what they say. "Actions speak louder than words"
on April 4,2013 | 03:12AM
AmbienDaze wrote:
can you imagine being a no show at sasabune, the sushi nazi? you will be banned for life.
on April 4,2013 | 04:30AM
DDOrange wrote:
Very simple....on the day of the reservation call the customer to verify, like how doctor's offices do.
on April 4,2013 | 08:57AM
serious wrote:
Excellent--and to add, get a credit card number to reserve.
on April 4,2013 | 09:07AM
krusha wrote:
Those no-shows should have at least called to cancel the reservation if they knew they couldn't make it. I don't blame the restaurant owner for wanting to get revenge.
on April 4,2013 | 09:19AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
A good solution for restaurants is to only allow reservations to those who are in a special membership. To sign up would be free and there would be rewards for signing up such as five successfully completed reservations would would mean a free drink for the member for the next visit. That way, no inconsiderate random customer can make reservations without any intention to follow through. There are people like these.
on April 4,2013 | 11:02AM
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