A restaurant in London is set to become the first in the UK to start charging customers for meals before they visit the restaurant, in a bid to cut down on no-shows.
It's a move that has caught the eye of one of Dublin's hottest eateries, which told Hospitality Ireland that it wouldn't rule out replicating something similiar here in the future.
Clove Club restaurant in Shoreditch, London will ask customers to pay for their meals (tasting menus of £65 or £95) upon booking, which will be non-refundable if the group don’t show up on the night. The restaurant will use booking technology Tock to manage the system from April, as reported in the Irish Times.
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Chef Isaac McHale is introducing the technology to cut down on people not turning up for a reservation, or fewer people arriving. The move, he says, “will ruffle a few feathers”, but he maintains it is necessary to balance the high costs involved with staff and ingredients.
A number of restaurants in Ireland have sought to introduce measures to fight the costs involved with no-shows. One such restaurant, Brioche, a popular French tasting plate restaurant in Ranelagh in Dublin, has introduced a system whereby customers must give credit card details when booking a table of six or more on a Friday or Saturday evening.
Speaking to Hospitality Ireland, the restaurant, owned and run by chef Gavin McDonagh, said that they “would certainly look at it if the industry bodies show support,” adding “it would help protect jobs.”
Technology-based solutions to problems in the restaurant sector are beginning to trend, especially in high-profile eateries. Smartphone ordering, tabletop e-waiters (where customers can pay their bill at the table) and reservation technology are becoming more popular. The Tock app allows the restaurant to fluctuate prices according to demand - such as with an airline ticket - although Clove Club have not said they will use this feature.