March 26, 2013 at 2:16 PM ET
If you’ve ever cancelled a restaurant reservation last minute, or worse yet, failed to show up for one at all, beware—a restaurant in Los Angeles recently “outed” no-shows on Twitter, as reported by Eater.
“All the nice guests who wonder why restaurants overbook and they sometimes have to wait for their res should thank people like those below,” tweeted Noah Ellis, managing partner at the Vietnamese-fusion restaurant Red Medicine. He then named seven customers who blew off their Saturday night dinner plans. TODAY.com reached out to some of those customers, but none wanted to comment on the issue.
"The a--holes who decide to no-show, or cancel 20 minutes before their reservation (because one of their friends made a reservation somewhere else) ruin restaurants (as a whole) for the people who make a reservation and do their best to honor it," Ellis told Eater. "Either restaurants are forced to overbook and make the guests (that actually showed up) wait, or they do what we do, turn away guests for some prime-time slots because they're booked, and then have empty tables."
Since the weekend, the restaurant has not seen any impact on its number of reservations due to the tweets, probably because most locals are familiar with the restaurant’s edgy attitude.
“I would say that Red Medicine is notorious for its tweeting voice—a few months ago, Los Angeles Magazine even included it in a story about the prickliest tweets from restaurants,” Brian Rosman, a spokesperson for the Beverly Hills spot, told TODAY.com.
He also added that it’s a trend in Hollywood for assistants to have to make reservations for their bosses at three or four different places, and then end up cancelling most of them.
“For a small restaurant like Red Medicine, even a couple of tables really affects them,” Rosman said. “People don’t realize that this causes real problems for a restaurant.”
Lots of chefs are no longer taking reservations, but Ellis says he will continue to accept them. “I think if [no reservations] works for them, it’s awesome,” he said. “As long as they’re consistently busy, or at least predictably busy, they can schedule and order accordingly, and if the guests are cool with it and willing to deal with it, all the better.”
And even though no-shows can throw a wrench into the works, Ellis says reservations still do more good than harm. “Especially on busier nights, I think that guests like to know whether or not they’re going to be able to sit down at a specific time, versus showing up and waiting 45-plus minutes,” he says. “It’s also very helpful to have a sense of who and how many people are coming through the door in advance.”
Opentable—which seats 10 million diners a month worldwide through its online reservations system—allows people four strikes in 12 months for no-shows before permanently deactivating a member’s account.
“Even four in a year is somewhat generous given the impact for the restaurant,” said Tiffany Fox, senior director of corporate communications for the site.
To mitigate cancellations, OpenTable emails diners 24 to 36 hours in advance of their timeslots and gives people an easy opportunity to hit cancel, or modify the reservation, she says.
A small number of restaurants do require credit cards for large-party reservations, but most don’t, as it deters diners.
Despite the occasional no-shows, Fox says reservations still remain beneficial.
“Part of what reservations do is help the restaurants run their front of house and manage their flow of operations,” she said. “And they make diners happy.”