Is it okay for a restaurant to tattle on no-shows in a public forum like, oh, say, Twitter? Over the weekend, owner/GM Noah Ellis of Red Medicine in Los Angeles named several people on Twitter who didn't show up for their reservations, adding "All the nice guests who wonder why restaurants overbook and they sometimes have to wait for their res should thank people like those below." Customers who don't show up for reservations are a subject of hot debate and there are a myriad of ways restaurants deal with them, including charging customers a fee for not showing up, Next/Alinea's method of selling tickets to dinner, and now, publicly shaming them. Sure, why not.
Ellis discussed the tweets and no-shows in general with Eater LA, saying:
"The assholes who decide to no-show, or cancel 20 minutes before their reservation (because one of their friends made a reservation somewhere else) ruin restaurants (as a whole) for the people who make a reservation and do their best to honor it. Either restaurants are forced to overbook and make the guests (that actually showed up) wait, or they do what we do, turn away guests for some prime-time slots because they're booked, and then have empty tables."
Red Medicine no longer practices a "ghost tables" policy, in which restaurants overbook to compensate for potential no-shows in much the same way airlines do. By not overbooking, restaurants can prevent wait times, but it also means no shows hurt the business that much more. There's not necessarily a new group of people waiting to take a no-show's place.
If Ellis' name sounds familiar to you, it's probably because a couple years ago he became famous for a different type of outing when he refused to seat Los Angeles Times critic S. Irene Virbila and posted her photo on the internet.
· @redmedicinela [Twitter]
· Is it Kosher to Call Out No-Show Diners on Twitter? [Eater LA]
· All No-Shows Coverage on Eater [-E-]