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Tallahassee restaurants amend reservation policies following hundreds of cancelations

Posted at 8:10 PM, Oct 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-06 20:10:00-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Get ready to pull out the credit card before you even sit down at some of your favorite date night spots.

Local fine-dining restaurants in Tallahassee are changing how they do reservations.

Restaurant owners say they're seeing hundreds of reservation cancellations, leaving tables that should be filled empty and tips for employees low.

To remedy the issue many are now requesting a deposit when you make the reservation.

Savour owner Drew McLeod says the issue pops up when there's an influx of out-of-towners visiting for reasons like football, graduation, or legislative session.

"Over the past couple of years, we've noticed on the larger weekends, whether its football or graduation, we have people playing the reservation where they'll make reservations at a couple of others. When they all get together, the group think and decide where they want to go and they fail to cancel the other reservations," said McLeod. "As a result, we end up having to try and fill those seats so that our servers can try to make the revenue they would've made on a busy weekend."

McLeod said to combat the cancellations, he's implementing a $25 deposit for reservations of five or more. Anyone who cancels within 24 hours of the reservation pays $25 per person. For those busier weekends, the deposit is for any reservation.

"In addition, it creates chaos and we can't get people in that maybe would have wanted to be here," he said.

McLeod said Savour had 128 cancellations last Saturday. Although he was able to fill some seats, the many broken reservation alone would have equaled up to $6,000 in revenue loss and more than $1,000 in tips for his staff.

Just across the street, il Lusso is implementing a similar policy. The restaurant is charging $25 per guest who cancels a reservation the day of a busy weekend.

Il Lusso reports from the per-person average of last Saturday alone it and its sister restaurant Sage could have lost $30,000 if not for walk-ins.

For some restaurants, like Lucilla, the cancellations on busy weekends aren't enough to implement a change in policy. The restaurant says, for now, they'll stay the course.

Restaurants that typically see more foot traffic like Railroad Square Crafthouse say the cancellations haven't been a problem.

The business owners stress it's not the Tallahassee community, instead, it's people coming in from out of town.

McLeod said, in fact, the local community has given him a great sales year.