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‘I’m done now!’ Chef hits out over no-shows at acclaimed Suffolk restaurant

PUBLISHED: 19:00 27 July 2020

Chris Lee, Head Chef and owner of The Bildeston Crown, has hit out over diners who fail to show up Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Chris Lee, Head Chef and owner of The Bildeston Crown, has hit out over diners who fail to show up Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant/Sarah Lucy Brown

Well-known Suffolk chef Chris Lee has hit out on social media after the Bildeston Crown was hit by people booking Sunday lunch - then failing to turn up.

Chris and Hayley Lee , owners of The Bildeston Crown Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNChris and Hayley Lee , owners of The Bildeston Crown Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Chris head chef at the popular restaurant, tweeted: “I’m done now! 2x4 tables forgot to cancel their tables for lunch today. Why do people just shrug this off as if it’s not a major thing!”

The post got a lot of reaction on Twitter, with Stephen Robson, co-head chef at The Pier, Harwich, tweeting: “We had a table of 6 email 90 minutes after their booking to let us know they weren’t coming!”

The issue of no-show diners is currently in the news nationally, after celebrity chef Tom Kerridge posted on Instagram about his frustration over 27 customers who booked tables at Kerridge’s Bar & Grill in London, but did not turn up.

The Bildeston Crown, which is in a former coaching inn and has three AA rosettes, reopened earlier this month with full hygiene and social distancing measures in place. It has had an enthusiastic response from customers – but the no-shows are upsetting staff.

MORE: What’s it like to eat in a restaurant now?

Chris, who owns the restaurant together with wife Hayley, said: “We have had a few people booking and not turning up, and we had two tables of four at Sunday lunchtime.

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“We phoned the people up and they said they had forgotten they had booked. We only have 40 covers, so to lose two tables of four people is a big problem, not just for the people who didn’t turn up, but for all the others we have had to turn away.”

He said they had brought 90% of their staff back from furlough. “It has been really good – I’m really happy to be open, and happy with the 98% of people who do turn up.

However, Chris added: “There are a few people who book tables at two or three different restaurants, but don’t cancel the ones they decide not to go to – they just don’t turn up.

“I just want to make people aware that the whole hospitality sector is struggling at the moment, and this is not helping.”

He added restaurants needed enough notice of cancellations to be able to rebook the table – ringing just an hour or two ahead is not enough notice.

A number of Twitter users suggested taking deposits from diners. However, Chris said: “We currently take deposits for tables of six to eight, but don’t really want to have to come down to doing this for tables of four.

“It takes staff time to get credit card numbers and it means we are not answering calls from other people.”

MORE: Desserts to die for at the Bildeston Crown


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