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With no-shows rising, Bend restaurant plans deposit hold for dinner reservations

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Rosie Westlund, the owner of Wild Rose Northern Thai Eats in downtown Bend, says she’s noticed a troubling trend that's negatively affecting area restaurants: More customers are making reservations to secure a table, then canceling at the last minute -- or just not showing up.

As of now, restaurants in Deschutes County are limited to 25% indoor seating capacity. So Westlund said it’s a double-hit when someone who has a dinner reservation cancels, or just doesn’t show up, because she turns away walk-up customers, expecting people to show up for their reservation.

“They would say, 'Yes! Write me down! I’ll be there!' And then yes, they wouldn’t show up,” Westlund said Monday.

Westlund said she understands why people prefer making reservations to just showing up in hopes of getting a table, but it also doesn’t excuse not attempting to show up.

Amid the struggles with COVID-19 restrictions, it’s been hard for restaurants to thrive, especially when it comes to filling in the late-night slots after having turned away potential walk-ins.

She wants people to understand how not showing up for reservations to her restaurant impacts her.

“Its 9:10, and we call him, and he says ‘Oh, no -- I’m not coming.’ And we were like, 'Okay, well, we’d appreciate it if next time you judy call us and let us know.' And he literally said: ‘Yeah, no.'”

Other restaurants like Hola!, also in downtown Bend, say they aren’t confident in depending on strictly serving its customers by reservations only.

“It’s kind of risky for the business. What about if they don’t show up or something like that? And that’s why we offer first-come, first-serve,” said Fernando Bellindo, manager of the Hola! location in Sunriver.

Restaurants like Wild Rose are now going to be requiring deposits when making reservations. She said its been a system she’s implemented before, and is now just waiting to modernize the process.

 “And so now, once our reservation app is ready to go, we will be requiring a $25 deposit, not refundable, that goes toward the meal,” Westlund said.

She added that people locally might not be used to the concept of paying for a reservation, but says it’s a common practice in bigger cities.

“If people are going to come, they are going to come. If they want to reschedule, that’s fine. They paid the deposit already, they can reschedule for whatever day," Westlund said.

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Leslie Cano

Leslie Cano is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Leslie here.


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