Dear restaurant customer: we need to talk about no shows, blog by Ishwaryia Rajamohan

The Staff Canteen

It has become a regular headline around Valentine’s Day: chefs from all around the world complaining about no-shows at their restaurants.

As an industry we’ve been vocal about what harm that can do to a business. But the problem has persisted over the past few years and it doesn’t appear that the message is reaching the people who really need to hear it.

For our part, we’ve had to reflect how our engagement with customers has become less personal with online booking systems. It might be true that without personal accountability, customers feel entitled to take their commitments lightly. But the real issue might be that they only see their side of the story.

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How you can help

If the open letter below resonates with you, chef, I urge you to share it. Will it accomplish anything? If nothing else, we get to clearly communicate what’s true for us: that with no-shows we feel unappreciated for all the work we do behind the scenes.

Beyond that, we’re not really in control of someone’s actions, except when we resort to measures like taking a deposit.

The letter

Dear restaurant customer, 

You have no idea how grateful we are for your custom and the opportunity it gives us to do what we love: feeding others. But we might never see you in person to say it. Just like we never get to see how our work impacts you.

Which also means that you might not see the impact of your actions. We’ve got to talk about no-shows, because on Valentine’s Day (or any other day for that matter), our businesses suffer when you don’t show up for an advance booking.

What you don’t see is the amount of work that goes into your meal before you walk through our doors. The menus we’ve planned, the dishes we’ve tested. The staff we’ve called into work. The ingredients we’ve ordered and the time we’ve spent preparing them.

Here’s something else you don’t see: that on Valentine’s Day, we get home to our loved ones ​only after​ we’ve served you.

We hope you can appreciate what it means for us to be of service and how no-shows impact restaurants. And that you’ll keep this in mind when you make your next booking.


Chefs of the world

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Ishwariya Rajamohan founded Love Letters to Chefs to help chefs navigate the challenges of the profession. It's about really seeing the human being who shows up to work in a chef's jacket. Her current focus is the #BetterCheflife project (, and the hashtag is being used on social media to promote the concept of a better work-life balance in our industry

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The Staff Canteen

Editor 12th February 2019

Dear restaurant customer: we need to talk about no shows, blog by Ishwaryia Rajamohan