February 18, 2017 4:12 pm
Updated: February 18, 2017 4:16 pm

Should Vancouver restaurants charge people who bail on reservations?

WATCH: An epidemic of “no-shows” has more Vancouver restaurants charging, or thinking of charging, non-refundable fees reservation.


Like most restaurants, PiDGiN relies on weekend nights and special events to pay the bills.

This past Valentine’s Day was a breaking point for PiDGiN owner Brandon Grossutti.

“Valentine’s Day we lost 20 reservations, most to no-shows, which means they don’t have the decency to call in and cancel,” he said.

Grossutti was so mad about the no-shows that he ranted about it on Facebook.

“People like this need to understand that when they do a late cancel we are unlikely to get that table rebooked and when we are doing a set menu, we end up having extra product,” he wrote. “This also adversely affects the server’s tips, the restaurants labour and bottom line. We are not faceless corporations; we are young cooks working ungodly hours, we are servers putting their kids through school, we are small business owners putting everything we have on the line.”

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The post gained some traction within the city’s restaurant industry, with some saying the number of no-shows is on the rise. The increase is caused, in part, to the ease of booking on sites like OpenTable that give people the anonymity they need to book multiple tables at different restaurants and only show for one.

Some restaurants are fighting back.

Chambar in Downtown Vancouver now asks for a credit card number when taking a reservation for a party of five or more. If they fail to show up, the card is charged $25.

Chambar’s Edwyn Kumar said they have seen a spike in no-shows over the last year, with anywhere from 20 to 25 per cent of guests failing to show up for a reservation. He said the new policy “solved the problem quite quickly.”

Of course, charging for no-shows could deter people from making reservations at all, which puts restaurants in a tough situation. By doing nothing, they risk having empty tables during peak times. But they also risk making angering customers, which could also lead to empty tables.

– With files from Aaron McArthur

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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