Restaurant owner ‘demoralised’ after 100 no-shows in one day

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Eamon McCusker, who owns AM/PM, the Cabaret Supper Club and the Chubby Cherub in Belfast, said he was “demoralised” because the guests didn’t bother to cancel their tables. The last weekend before Christmas is traditionally one of the busiest times of the year for the hospitality industry but, largely due to the rise in Omicron cases, revellers have been reluctant to party.

We had up to and around 100 no-shows so it was pretty demoralising to be honest

Eamon McCusker, business owner

Mr McCusker said: “Our bookings reduced from more than 700 to 323 and then we had up to and around 100 no-shows so it was pretty demoralising to be honest.

“We became pretty disconsolate answering the phone over that two to three hour period and then, compounding that, we had the multitude of no shows.

“We went into Friday with over 700 bookings. We were in early in the morning and then the phone started ringing and from between 9.30 and 12.30, over half of those bookings had cancelled. That was an amalgamation of both corporate bookings and your standard bookings from the public.” He said it was a similar story on Saturday.

The businessman spoke to BBC’s Good Morning Ulster, which was highlighting how the pandemic is continuing to hit the hospitality trade hard.

Mr McCusker told Belfast Live his restaurants were looking at their “best Christmas ever for bookings” until the Omicron variant caused the Covid situation to worsen.

He added: “It wasn’t an erosion of bookings, it was a cliff edge dropping over the top. If there’s an erosion of bookings you can cut your cloth to fit but, with this scenario, it’s compounded by the fact that you have all of your product in and staff in. From our point of view, we were looking at probably our best Christmas ever for bookings.”

Extra funding to tackle COVID-19 across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland has been doubled.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak says the boost is to ensure people in the devolved nations are supported “in the face of this serious health crisis”.

Mr Sunak said: “Whatever the political discussion is, there is an economic reality hitting our members in real-time. We need to end that limbo. We need clarity and certainty.

“It’s going to be a very bleak midwinter. If we don’t get that support in place, many businesses will fail.”

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