Kitchener restaurant asking for deposits to reserve a table after rising number of no-shows
There is growing frustration from restaurants in Kitchener-Waterloo when it comes to customers not showing up for their reservations.
Now, some places are starting to charge guests a fee to save a seat.
Elixir Bistro in Kitchener's Belmont Village has seen reservation no-shows climb in recent months. Earlier this year, the restaurant implemented a deposit-based model for booking.
"Then I realized people were not reserving. And when we removed it, everybody started reserving," said Elixir's chef and owner Pirooz Jafari.
But Mother's Day weekend reignited those frustrations. With the biggest cost for a restaurant often being an empty seat, the bistro saw many of them go unfilled on Sunday.
"Twenty people [booked]. And then two of them showed up," said Jafari. "No-show. No-show. No-show. Cancelled," he said, scanning Sunday's bookings.
So he brought back the deposit strategy. When customers reserve a table online, the booking portal asks for a $25 e-transfer. If a customer shows up, the amount is deducted from the bill or returned in cash. If they are a no-show, the restaurant keeps it.
"You book a plane ticket, you have to pay for it. Otherwise, they don't reserve a ticket for you," Jafari said.
It seems the strategy is something people can get behind.
"Personally, I would have no issue with that whatsoever," one person told CTV News. "If people don't show up, they lose out. So I'm all for it," another person said.
Since bringing this reservation model back, people have searched for loopholes.
"Now people call and reserve, so they don't reserve online. But I'm still going to ask for $25," said Jafari. "If the group is seven or eight [people], I ask for $75."
Jafari hopes more restaurants around Waterloo Region will adopt the strategy too. That way, he can ensure his seats are just as full as his customer's bellies.