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No-shows can destroy you, says restaurateur

Justin Sharp at Pea Porridge
Justin Sharp at Pea Porridge

A Bury St Edmunds restaurateur has talked about the impact of ‘no-shows’ on his business.

Justin Sharp, who runs Pea Porridge in Cannon Street with his wife Jurga, said he had noticed an increase in the numbers of people booking tables at the restaurant but failing to turn up.

He spoke out after a table of four cancelled late and tables of two and eight failed to turn up – all in one evening.

“We are a restaurant of 13 tables, so we don’t have massive budgets. We are in our ninth year now, but it’s things like no-shows which can destroy you. Not only does it affect stock levels but our staff levels as well,” said Justin.

“It is definitely becoming more and more prevalent. But what do you do?”

One possibility is to take a deposit for all bookings, but Justin ruled this out on the grounds of it being impractical, given the size of his business, and not wanting to put off diners.

Pea Porridge takes bookings over the phone – preferring personal contact with the customer to using the internet – with the restaurant confirming large table bookings in advance.

“I don’t want to berate people, I just hope people will honour their bookings or give us notice if they can’t make it,” said Justin.

Mark Cordell, chief executive of Business Improvement District organisation Our Bury St Edmunds, said: “The issue of late cancellations or just not turning up as arranged is having a negative impact upon restaurateurs across the country, and Bury is not immune.

“I would ask people to give more consideration and realise that not taking up a booked table can effectively turn an evening into a non-profit event, leaving the business owner to still have to pay for the food they ordered and for their staff, but without the anticipated income.”

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