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Cork Independent

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Courtesy doesn’t cost us anything but it can save a restaurant

Wednesday, 3rd July, 2019 4:04pm

Last weekend Mr T and I visited Bantry for the first time in a long while and we treated ourselves to a nice meal in O’Connor’s Seafood Restaurant.

As we are very bad at planning, we didn’t call ahead to check if a table was available. So, when we arrived at the seafood restaurant, we were told that they were expecting a large group that seemed to be delayed. They asked if we could check back again in 15 minutes to see if they arrived – otherwise they couldn’t fit us in.

Luckily for us, they didn’t arrive – but as the group was 24 people strong, the restaurant got extra staff in, stocked up more food than usual and had now to deal with empty seats.

Calls to the person who booked the table were not answered and a large portion of the restaurant was empty.

This is a family-run business that supports local food producers – the owners are not part of a large corporate company that can easily overcome a half-empty place on a Saturday evening.

I was angry for the owners (Anne-Marie Butler who co-owns O’Connor’s is a hard-working chef and she tried to hide her frustration when we had a quick chat) as I understand how tough business can be.

Showing so little regard to a small business is appalling.

Every now and then, chefs and restaurateurs try to enforce credit card details being given at the time of the booking, especially for a large group and you hear uproar from diners.

I have no problems giving my credit card details when booking a table in a restaurant – neither do I have a problem calling to cancel when I am aware that we won’t be able to make it.

Weekends are the busiest times for a restaurant and to have 24 empty spaces due to lack of communication can result in financial loss and over time, can lead to the closure of these lovely little places that we all so love.

We are all so ready to give out about staff at restaurants but diners need to look in the mirror from time to time. Courtesy is so easy – you just need to pick up the phone.

The no-show in this case enabled us and a few other guests who tried their luck to get a table in a very good and normally busy restaurant and I hope for Anne-Marie and Pat that they were able to recoup the extra cost of additional staff.

In case you are thinking of visiting Bantry, why not go on a Friday when the farmer’s market is on? You can follow this with lunch at one of the excellent food places like The Stuffed Olive, Organico or O’Connor’s.

On a non-food related tour, you can find lovely little shops stocking creations from local artists, workshops and so much more. And let’s not forget Bantry House with its lovely gardens and amazing views over Bantry Bay!

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