Restaurant owners have been urged to take non-refundable deposits from customers, in order to halt the growing problem of “no-shows”.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland is calling on its members to take the deposits, saying the problem of people booking tables and then not turning up was “rampant across the country” over Christmas.
Adrian Cummins, chief executive officer of the association told Newstalk Breakfast there was a marked increase in no shows. "My phone was hopping over Christmas," he said.
In a bid to combat the problem the association is suggesting that members take a non-refundable deposit of €20 for bookings for tables of more than four.
The deposit would then be deducted from the final bill, but if the party does not turn up the deposit will be forfeited.
Mr Cummins pointed out that bookings for tickets for concerts and the cinema are forfeited if people do not turn up.
“The industry needs to do something about this. We need to stamp out ‘no shows’. People will have to give advance notice of 24 to 48 hours if they are going to cancel.”
He told of one restaurant which had experienced the “no-show” of a party of 20, which was one third of the restaurant’s capacity and had been very costly for them.
He said restaurants have to bring in staff and produce and need some sort of notice. The amount of the non-refundable deposit could be set by the restaurant and could vary from small operations to large premises.
Mr Cummins said the Competition Authority will not allow the association to set a specific amount, but he thought an average deposit of €20 was fair.
While the restaurant sector had a very good Christmas season, especially in Dublin, it had not been as busy in other parts of the country. “Not all boats are rising,” he said.