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‘A small courtesy to ring’ - restaurants’ plea for empathy as no-show diners are criticised

PUBLISHED: 06:48 17 July 2020 | UPDATED: 08:00 20 July 2020

The Mulberry in Thetford. Owner Karen Connor.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2016

The Mulberry in Thetford. Owner Karen Connor. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2016

ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434

Restaurateurs and hoteliers in Norfolk have urged customers to have empathy with the industry after national criticism of no-show diners.

Strattons Hotel owner Vanessa Scott. Picture: ArchantStrattons Hotel owner Vanessa Scott. Picture: Archant

Earlier this week, television chef Tom Kerridge criticised 27 people who did not turn up to the Corinthia Hotel in London without letting them know. Just days later, well-known chef Paul Ainsworth also slammed 27 dinners who failed to attend his Cornwall pub in one day.

It has reignited a national debate over no-show diners, during a time when, with restaurants forced to have fewer tables, every seat counts.

Karen Connor, from The Mulberry in Thetford, said people in the industry understood situations arose and circumstances changed, but said notice gave them an opportunity to fill a table.

“Every seat is really important,” she said. “It’s always been a problem, but the restrictions have heightened it and brought it to the forefront.

Anthony and Jeannette Goodrich at The Rose and Crown pub in Snettisham, Norfolk which was visited by the Duke of Cambridge in July.  Picture: Aaron Chown/PA WireAnthony and Jeannette Goodrich at The Rose and Crown pub in Snettisham, Norfolk which was visited by the Duke of Cambridge in July. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

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“If someone is doing a tasting menu and think they have 10 covers, that’s an awful lot of preparation. It’s heartbreaking, really, to see an empty table that should have been full.”

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The sentiment was echoed by Vanessa Scott at Strattons Hotel, in Swaffham, who said no-show customers - be it diners or overnight guests - could have a “huge impact” on a business.

She said the issue had made them decide against allowing reservations at their CoCoes Café Deli.

“It’s a real balancing act,” she said. “We have sympathy, but we have had a huge amount of time where we have taken no money. We are lucky we do not suffer from it too much.”

She said it was sad to see a lack of empathy towards those trying to keep businesses afloat.

And Jeannette Goodrich, who owns the Rose and Crown in Snettisham, said: “At the moment because one is limited on space anyway it will have much more of an impact that it would normally. Now, every table counts and to have no-shows is really, really annoying.

“If they ring and cancel it doesn’t matter too much because we get quite a lot of people coming in unbooked anyway. It’s such a small courtesy to ring.”

Restaurants around the country have debated taking customers’ credit card details or even a small deposit to book a table.

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