Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Dining out Etiquette Rule No. 1: Don't Be a No-Show

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Dining out Etiquette Rule No. 1: Don't Be a No-Show

Article excerpt

So eight of you are going out for a special dinner on a Saturday night. You make reservations at three upscale BYOs for 7:30 p.m. That night, you gather an hour before for a drink and to scan online menus. You head to one restaurant, and don't give the other two another thought, let alone a call.

Well, here's what happened at those two restaurants: They've spent the last few days turning away customers who wanted your table; they've purchased food for that night, anticipating a full dining room; and since you didn't even call them to cancel that night, they'll continue turning away walk-ins well past 7:30 p.m., waiting for you to come through the door.

And when it becomes apparent that you're a no-show, it may be too late to fill the table you've left empty. As a result, they've lost a good chunk of the profits for that week. After all, Saturday night is what enables many of North Jersey's high-end restaurants to pay their bills - far fewer people want to have pricey dinners on Tuesday nights.

While all restaurants are affected by no-shows, they are particularly devastating to small BYOs, which have some of the tightest financial margins in the business.

"I don't think the public really understands," said restaurateur Chris Tarta, the owner of Due in Ridgewood and Bella Campania in Hillsdale. "They think if they don't show up, other people fill the seats, and that's just not the way it is."

Tarta is not talking about the occasional emergency. He's talking about the party of eight that didn't show up for a Due reservation on Mother's Day - one of the biggest restaurant days of the year - and then when Due's hostess called to ask whether they were running late, they nonchalantly said they had chosen another restaurant.

"People just need to understand that this is our livelihood, and once you reserve those seats, we're holding them for you," Tarta said. …

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