Restaurant shames no-shows on Twitter

A Beverly Hills hotspot has started calling out patrons who skip their reservations as the service industry tries to put online pressure on ill-behaved customers.

By Jason Notte Mar 28, 2013 4:15PM
Smartphone displaying Twitter logo (© Soeren Stache/dpa/Corbis)Whether it's a company like Red Lobster owner Darden International (DRI) telling customers they don't spend enough, or the National Restaurant Association telling The Daily Beast that customers aren't worth the investment it would take to let them pay their bills faster, restaurant patrons in the U.S. are getting one clear message from eateries lately: The problem is you.

Red Medicine, a Beverly Hills Vietnamese restaurant that L.A. Weekly considers “essential,” has no issue voicing that not only to customers, but to everyone who follows those customers on Twitter as well. When would-be patrons started no-showing on their reservations in growing numbers, restaurant owner and operator Noah Ellis just started calling them out on his restaurant's Twitter feed in an attempt to shame them out of doing it again.

For regulars at Lardy McStuffOnTheWalls who may not understand why Red Medicine doesn't just give the table to someone else and move the night along, Ellis gave an explanation via Eater LA: “Either restaurants are forced to overbook and make the guests (that actually showed up) wait, or they do what we do, turn away guests for some prime-time slots because they're booked, and then have empty tables.”

So, no, you can't just overbook, ask for and place charges on a credit card (as is the case at many high-end restaurants in major cities), hand out tickets or cancel reservations. They set a bad precedent that, in many cases, is ultimately bad for business. Venting on Twitter may not seem like a better alternative, but Ellis -- a graduate of Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration -- says it gives him a means of venting at customers who “probably don't know, and if they know, they probably don't care.”


While the casual dining industry's slump since the recession has rightly given patrons the idea that a restaurant needs them more than they need it, it's also introduced some customer behavior that's prompted restaurants to issue the occasional unorthodox corrective. In Japan, for example, high-end all-you-can-eat sushi restaurants have begun fining customers for leaving food on their plates. In the U.S., service industry employees have taken matters into their own hands by calling out customers who have stiffed Applebee's waitresses on tips and left $10 tips on $1,500 pizza deliveries that required a driver to haul around 85 pies.


Restaurants and patrons are engaged in a war of words that seemingly no one is listening to. Customers want better service or, failing that, some value for their spending. Restaurateurs want to be treated like servers instead of servants and don't want to be stood up, complained about or torched on Yelp just for having the audacity to serve people a meal they didn't feel like cooking.


Perhaps when either side starts listening, business will boom once again and the public shamings can cease. Until then, the problem is everyone.


More on moneyNOW

Mar 28, 2013 5:48PM

There are so many food stamps being used that the food stamps have become their own currency. Those that hold food stamps are willing to purchase items for you and settle for half their value in cash.

Why not reduce the amount of food stamps issued.  Does anyone monitor usage??????

Home visits done??????

Mar 28, 2013 4:47PM
There are a large number of working people whose wages make them eligible for food stamps. These are people who work and do not sit home idle.  Obama cannot make Walmart pay its employees more. Walmart employees are so poorly paid and receive such poor benefits, that the US government ends up subsidizing Walmart by providing earned income credits, food stamps and healthcare to its employees. So, when you see cheap prices at Walmart you're not seeing the full price.
Mar 29, 2013 3:43PM

I realize that some workers don't make a lot of money, but thought the choice to tip or not was up to the customer. If you get "Stiffed" maybe it's your attitude.


Mar 29, 2013 3:11PM

What do food stamps, Wal-Mart and Obama (again) have to do with the article? Try to focus, people.

Mar 28, 2013 4:30PM
"Until then, the problem is everyone." I agree with that statement. However, until the economy has made an obvious improvement, both restaurant customers and restaurateurs are going to be unhappy. A customer with little to no money won't go to a restaurant, and a restaurateur making little to no profit, can't afford to do a major service overhaul.
Mar 29, 2013 2:02PM

America’s restaurants value their customers – a big reason why 130 million people choose to dine out each day. Restaurants support their communities in big and small ways – from investing in diners’ payment options to ensure a pleasant dining experience to providing food to those displaced by severe weather and sponsoring youth sports teams. Restaurants know that providing quality service to customers and supporting their communities are the keys to success. – @WeRRestaurants

Mar 28, 2013 10:45PM
The greed and stupidity of the Wal-Mart Corp. is absolutely impossible to understand, they do not have anyone at the wheel that hasn't lost their way.
Mar 28, 2013 5:19PM
wow...looking at some of the comments I see some of you folks don't have a clue.  My family was on SNAP for almost one year.  We were a family of 6. I was hurt at work and went off on disability earning a total of $1100 a month.  Total household income was around $2000.  Two of the 4 children were disabled (one diabetic)...our total SNAP allotment was $150...We didn't buy soda or chips..the most expensive thing we got other than meat was sugar free sweetener for the  diabetic kid.  We ate a lot of beans and rice.  When the oldest turned 18 and left home and we were making around $2500 we were dropped from the program..
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