Restaurant owners have reacted angrily after dozens of “no-show bookings” during first few weeks after lockdown.
Restaurants across England were allowed to reopen from Saturday July 4 for the first time since March 23.
All outlets had to enforce social distancing and put other COVID-secure measures in place.
While some diners rushed to take advantage of the rule relaxation, others backed away from bookings they had made, leaving businesses out of pocket.
Piña, an independent Mexican restaurant and bar in Sheffield, opened for the first time to the public on July 4 but had 30 bookings not turn up.
Owner Joe Cribley said the restaurant would now start taking deposits to secure bookingsBoth men said the hospitality industry had been severely hit by the pandemic and that “the practice of no-shows” was hitting business even more.
Mr Cribley said they were supposed to be fully booked over the first weekend but the no-shows meant they had to turn people away who would have otherwise been spending money.
“It’s certainly a myth that all restaurants and bars are profitable. The industry works on fairly small margins and what we need now is certainty.”
He also highlighted the poor treatment of staff by some customers as evidence of “disdain” for hospitality workers as some people who did attend the venue lost their tempers over social distancing restrictions.
In Harrogate Simon Cotton, who runs the Fat Badger, described people as “thoughtless and selfish”
Mr Cotton said people should have the “courtesy of cancelling” if they are unable to make their table so they could accept other bookings.
“Holding tables and not bothering to have have the courtesy to cancel them - I don’t think they realise the impact that will have on jobs. It will cost people their jobs.”
Their comments echo top chef Tom Kerridge who also criticised “selfish” and “disgraceful” customers when 27 people did not turn up at his Corinthia Hotel restaurant in central London.
Celebrity chef James Martin said one of his friends had 96 people booked for lunch and only four turned up.
He described no-shows as an “ongoing problem” in the restaurant industry.