Sheffield bar owner fumes as customers steal drinks and fail to show up for bookings

The owner of a popular Mexican restaurant and bar in Neepsend has spoken out against the ‘no show culture’ and bad behaviour of a small number of customers that spoiled an otherwise-positive return from lockdown for the business.

By Lloyd Bent
Wednesday, 15th July 2020, 8:19 pm

Joe Cribley, whose restaurant piña on Harvest Lane reopened on July 9, said that the way some people book a table and then do not turn up or cancel is the ‘biggest threat’ to restaurants and bars as they try to adapt to post-lockdown rules around dining and drinking out.

He also highlighted the poor treatment of staff by some customers as evidence of ‘disdain’ for hospitality workers, as people lost their tempers over the social distancing restrictions, even stealing drinks.

Now Joe has made a plea that people do not take the hospitality sector for granted, as bars and restaurants face an uncertain future and could even shut down if people do not support them properly.

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Joe Cribley, owner of pina

"On our reopening weekend we had 30 no shows,” Joe said. “People cannot imagine how damaging this culture is, especially at this time.

"Not only is it selfish as it stops other people from being able to book, but in the current climate it leaves us with empty tables that we cannot fill, and that is not for want of people with a desire to come here.

"At the moment most restaurants have a full booking system. So if somebody books a table and does not show up, we can’t fill it with people who have walked in. The table stays empty for two hours.

"At the moment restaurants need that certainty that bookings provide. We see how many people we have in and decide on staffing according to that.

piña on Harvest Lane in Neepsend.

"When people do not show up for bookings, restaurants and bars lose money. It is very hard to make a profit at the moment, and if you lose money you end up closing down.

"Not showing up is the biggest threat to restaurants and the situation at the moment really highlights what a damaging practice that is.”

As well as having trouble with bookings not showing up, Joe’s staff faced hostility from customers unwilling to comply with social distancing rules.

“You’d hope that people would understand at the moment that we have to operate a booking system, but we still had a lot of trouble on the door with people wanting to be let in,” Joe said.

Pina before lockdown

"We even had a group of 12 who could not understand why they were not allowed to just stand at the bar.

"I just thought that we would not have to justify this.

"And to top it off we had one man who went behind the bar and started taking his own drinks, who we had to kick out.”

In an effort to deal with the issues that arose, piña will now be running a deposit system so that people who do not show up for bookings have to pay a certain amount per head. There will also be more door staff.

"The people who caused problems were very much a minority, and our opening weekend did remind us how many lovely, thoughtful, supportive and respectful customers we have,” Joe added.

"The trouble is that a small number of people have an element of disdain for hospitality workers and don’t understand the hard work they put in. They don’t understand that it is a privilege to come out to a bar or restaurant, and that we don’t owe them a night out.

"Most people appreciate that, and I think it is getting better. These three or four months where we have not had bars and restaurants have made people realise how much they miss it in their social lives and in the city’s culture.

"It has made people want to support the hospitality sector more, which could be the beginning of change. I think bar and restaurant owners should not be afraid to speak out about it, rather than just put up and shut up.

"If people are aware of the problem, then the good customers will start to police it themselves. If they have a friend who is thinking of not showing up for a booking, or is rude to bar staff, they will tell them not to behave like that.

"It’s just about creating a better environment for eating and drinking out; one that is more sustainable.”