Restaurant staffers like to gripe about the diners who show up for Restaurant Week, but the ones who don't show can be equally aggravating.
Poppy's Jerry Traunfeld this weekend tweeted: "Why so many more no-shows during restaurant week compared to a regular night? We're offering a great deal, have some courtesy and call!" According to Restaurant Week spokesperson Heather Jensvold, other participating restaurants "have seen a bit of this" too, although not every restaurant is reporting problems.
Jensvold offers two explanations for the phenomenon: Since Restaurant Week organizers urge diners to make reservations--or risk losing their chance to eat three courses on the cheap--diners may make reservations more promiscuously during designated Restaurant Week days. Diners who snare reservations when the promotional event is announced, only to later realize their schedules aren't compatible with a Tuesday night dinner at 9 p.m., create a no-show headache.
So does the popularity of Restaurant Week, adds Jensvold. Restaurants always brace for a certain number of no-shows, but "the sheer amount of volume of diners during Seattle Restaurant Week also contributes to the increase that some restaurants experience with no-shows," she says.
A third explanation, eagerly advanced by veteran diners, posits that Restaurant Week brings out the worst-mannered eaters. Bargain-hunters who don't usually eat in white-tablecloth restaurants are notorious for trying to wring the most value from their $28 tabs, demanding endless soda refills and complaining about small portions. Failing to cancel a reservation is consistent with such loutish behavior, Restaurant Week detractors claim.
Jensvold puts a tactful spin on the argument: "Some diners may not be aware of the cost that restaurants incur with no-shows and how difficult it may be for the restaurant to replace that no-show table," she says. "It's a mutual respect from diner-to-diner to call ahead and free up the table."