First it was Brexit, then Covid, and now soaring energy bills and inflation are forcing Brits to cut back in every aspect of their daily lives.
This has hit hundreds of restaurants and pubs, and people have already had to wave a sorrow goodbye to some of their favourite spots this year.
What is most unhelpful to such struggling businesses is a no-show – an age-old problem that gambles with owners’ livelihoods.
Marios Bregu, who runs Maria’s Greek Taverna in Cardiff, voiced his frustration as he had 22 no-shows in a single night.
The 28-year-old said his restaurant in Crwys Road, Cathays, was ‘hit hard’ and he had to bin £200 worth of food at the end of the night after people did not turn up for their bookings.
‘It hurt me so badly to do that,’ he said.
The restaurant owner wrote on Facebook: ‘We had a table of 20 and a 10 booked in, 30 people in total.
‘We set the tables up and moved the restaurant around to accommodate these, turning away other bookings.
‘On the evening eight guests in total arrived over the bookings.’
Only four customers arrived for each of the two tables, but no explanation was given for the 22 empty chairs.
The restaurant had missed out on three potential bookings and two walk-ins.
Mr Bregu said: ‘No-shows have been happening more in the past few months with the recession and the gas and petrol prices.
‘I don’t charge people a deposit because I know we are all struggling in the same boat.’
Mr Bregu, who has a 20-month-old daughter, said the cost of living catastrophe has been challenging for the restaurant, which has recently seen a drop in delivery orders and in average spend per customer.
Its energy bills have soared from £1,800 to £4,140 a month and its annual water bill from £600 to £995.
This is why no-shows threaten the future of independent restaurants like Maria’s.
Mr Bregu works 95 hours every week only to make about £1,000 profit in a month.
His Facebook post added: ‘We don’t want to call out our guests, or make anyone feel bad but we want to highlight the damage no show or late cancellations have on small businesses…
‘It’s okay if plans change, but please do let us and restaurants know. Even with an hour or so notice (or when you know there will be a change of plan) we can take other reservations or walk-ins and set up our restaurant to welcome all.’
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