Swiss restaurant fines guests 100 francs each for not showing up for reservation
For restaurant owners, nothing is more annoying than turning away customers because all the tables are reserved, only to find that the 16-person reservation with the four-course set menu won’t be showing up after all. While this anger is understandable, entrepreneurs in some of the top ski resorts in Switzerland have gone one step beyond, charging a 100-franc fee if customers don’t show up for their dinner reservation.
Reservation no-shows have a huge impact on Swiss restaurants
Speaking to Blick, the boss of the restaurant Chesa in Flims, Canton Graubünden, said that around 40 groups miss their reservations without telling him every ski season. This has a significant impact on his small restaurant, which dedicates a significant percentage of its tables to those who have pre-booked.
In response, since last winter, the boss of the establishment has imposed what he calls a “tax” on those that don’t show up. If a group of five people or more doesn’t turn up for their reservation and doesn't contact the restaurant, each person must pay 100 Swiss francs - which, if they actually bothered to shop up, would pay for a five-course meal with beef tenderloin, eggs and creme brulee. Groups of this size must give the restaurant details of a bank card in order to book.
No-show fines in Swiss restaurants
It seems that the high price of missing out is having an impact, with the boss telling Blick that “situations of this kind have almost fallen to zero.” The last fine they issued was dished out to a no-show that was attending the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2022.
“You have to be tolerant. But if people don't come forward at all and react to our call with stammering, they have to pay," he concluded. Interestingly, this isn’t the only place with a “no-show” charge. In Laax, a number of restaurants give out fines of 20 francs each during the ski season for every empty reserved table.
Number of flaky reservations in Switzerland skyrockets post-pandemic
René Sidler of the pizzeria Palüda in Davos explained to Blick that since the COVID pandemic, the number of no-shows has skyrocketed. "They make reservations at three restaurants and then see at the time if they prefer fondue or pizza…We have 65 places. If 10 customers don't come, it's a lot of money that we lose."
In response, Marc Tischhauser from the association GastroGraubünden said that “we recommend that restaurants introduce online table reservations with precise contact details. This increases the obligatory character implied by a reservation.” However, if there are a lot of no-shows, he thought a fine is a good idea.