Celebrated Rafters restaurant in Sheffield makes major change to bookings after slew of last-minute cancellations

A Michelin-recommended restaurant in Sheffield says it has been forced to change its bookings policy after being hit by a slew of last-minute cancellations.

By Robert Cumber
Friday, 1st October 2021, 10:22 am

Rafters in Nether Green claimed the existing system was ‘not sustainable’ after late cancellations left it with just 11 diners on Thursday, out of 26 who had booked.

The hugely popular fine dining establishment on Oakbrook Road, which has two AA Rosettes and is listed in the prestigious Michelin Guide, said it had been left with no option but to impose new bookings rules to ensure its survival.

Diners will now be asked to pay in full when booking and anyone cancelling a reservation with less than 48 hours notice will only be given a refund at the restaurant’s discretion.

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Rafters restaurant owners Alistair Myers (left) and Tom Lawson at the Oakbrook Road eatery

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“We are a 26-cover restaurant that is generally fully booked weeks in advance. Today we have dropped from 26 covers to 11 covers due to last minute cancellations,” said Rafters.

"Through the past 18 months we have been extremely patient with our guests due to Covid and have waived our cancellation policy for those that cancel last minute.

“With this weeks cancellations we have decided to impose the following.

Rafters Restaurant in Sheffield said the number of last-minute cancellations was 'not sustainable'

“For those with current reservations… we will be standing strong on our 48-hour cancellation policy. Anyone who cancels in this time frame will be charged the full amount of the menu unless we manage to resell the table.

“Any no-shows will be charged the full amount of the menu price.

“All future reservations will be subject to full menu payment at the time of booking. This will be transferable outside out the 48 hour policy but will be non refundable if changes are made within the 48 hour period at our discretion

“We understand that this will impact a lot of people but what we are currently experiencing is not sustainable. We employ 15 staff in our small restaurant that all rely on us being busy.

“From now on we will be taking full payment for your menu of choice. This will be non-refundable but will be transferable to a future date should you need to change your plans last minute.

“We completely understand that things happen out of our control but this really does impact us on a massive scale. We simply cannot afford to lose over 50% of our business over night.”

Rafters is not the first venue in Sheffield to be hit by last-minute cancellations or no-shows as they attempt to bounce back from the devastating impact of the pandemic.

In August, The Stag's Head in Sharrow revealed how someone had failed to show up after booking a table for 23 people on a Friday night, saying they ‘probably deserve to be named and shamed’.

And in April, the owner of La Mama on Abbeydale Road described how it had been hit by a raft of no-shows, including three in one night.

Customers have backed Rafters’ new stance.

One wrote: “Can’t fault you at all. If people are serious about coming, it won’t effect anything at all.”

Another said: “Cannot fault you on your decision. I’ve done the same at my salon due to bookings not turning up. People don't understand this is your livelihood.”