It would be an understatement to say that the hospitality industry has had a bad year, but it appears as though things could finally be looking up. It has been revealed that since the announcement that restaurants in England can reopen from the 12 April, many popular spots have seen a huge soar in bookings.
In line with this, and to combat no shows – which have previously angered celebrity chefs such as Tom Kerridge – some restaurant owners are putting in a place a new policy which will ask diners to pay for their meal at the point of booking.
No shows are common across the hospitality sector and are in-part due to a new trend which sees diners book multiple options for one night, which they will then choose one of depending on how they feel come the evening of. Speaking to the Sunday Times, Kray Treadwell, the owner of the Birmingham restaurant 670 Grams said he has already begun to take pre-payment from customers looking to enjoy his £70 tasting menu.
"We're such a small restaurant, if the table of four doesn't turn up on a Friday night, then we lose hundreds of pounds," he said. "It's like getting a ticket to the theatre. If you can't go that night, you can give it to your friend."
This new policy doesn’t appear to be putting diners off, who are seemingly keen to get back to eating out with friends and family after a year of restrictions. Reflecting this, some of the best restaurants in the UK are now fully booked until the autumn, with the owner of the infamous Whitstable gastropub The Sportsman revealing to the Mail Online that his dining room is booked out until September. "If you want to come on a Saturday night, we aren't free until the end of October." He adds.
And the same story seems the same nearly everywhere. Successful restaurant group D&D – which owns 42 outlets – has taken 50,000 reservations across its sites and is fully booked “well into May” while Fallow in Mayfair has reportedly taken 5,000 bookings for the first four weeks from 17 May.
As a reminder, restaurants in England are able to open with outdoor tables only from the 12 April, and will be able to open fully from the 17 May. Rules differ in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Looking to book something fancy for when lockdown ends? Here's a list of all the three Michelin star restaurants in the UK