Friday, July 30, 2021
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Cornwall chefs slam vegans after last-minute cancellations

Chefs across Cornwall have hit out at no-show customers after one chef spent a whole morning preparing a special meal for six vegans who then cancelled their booking.

Ken Symonds, who runs Oliver’s restaurant in Falmouth, said he was considering a policy change after working on four courses for the table, who then cancelled on the day.

And he was immediately backed up by chefs across Cornwall, who said cancellations – particularly from customers needing drastic menu alterations – happened regularly and were leaving them struggling.

Ben Prior, of Ben’s Cornish Kitchen in Marazion, who was the first chef in Cornwall to introduce a £10 deposit for all diners last year, said he had also had a cancellation from a table of vegans this week, as did The Rising Sun in Truro.

High Tide Seafood restaurant at St Agnes said they had a ‘no vegan’ policy after being ‘stung’ several times having made vegan dishes.

Bruce Rennie, who owns The Shore in Penzance, said he had a no-show for a table of three booked using a fake name and phone number.

One chef in Cambridgeshire has decided to name and shame all customers who book a table at his restaurant then fail to show up and he’s even started a hashtag on Twitter #stopnoshow.

Cornwall Live previously spoke to several chefs who reported on how an “epidemic” of no-shows was killing the industry in Cornwall.

Nik Boyle, who runs the Victoria Inn in Perranuthnoe, which was deemed to have the best pub food in the country in a review in The Times, said at the time: “It’s beyond a joke.”

“We have lost about £2,500 in December from last minute cancellations or no-shows. It’s got to an epidemic if not pandemic levels.

“If I ordered £500 worth of goods from you then phoned an hour before you were to deliver it after you’d paid staff and materials would you just bin it and accept the loss?”

Bruce Rennie, who owns and runs The Shore in Penzance, added: “I’ve been in the industry for 25 years and I’ve never known it as bad as this in Cornwall.

“Locals seem to make reservations and honour them. I don’t want to belittle visitors to Cornwall but it does appear to be people coming from outside the county who are booking a few places and only turning up to one.

“I don’t think people do it deliberately but I do think there’s a general feeling that restaurants make lots of money, which they don’t. Every little penny counts down here. If I can’t pay a waitress as a result of a table not turning up that has an immediate effect on the local economy.”

Bruce’s way of tackling the problem is to phone every booking to confirm they are attending but “that takes up half an hour of my day when I should be cooking”.

He added: “The industry needs to react even if that means taking a deposit, which then comes off the bill. Anywhere else, from the theatre to the cinema, you pay upfront. Why should it be any different for a restaurant?”