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MOUTHING OFF

Deadbeat diners: The term "no-shows" is sure to strike fear into the heart of any restaurateur. You know, customers who make reservations and then don't show up, without even the courtesy of a cancellation phone call.

Look at it this way: You're having a party for fifty friends. Everyone says they're coming. You buy and prepare food, set up tables and hire a waitperson to take care of the crowd. Ten people show up. You're pissed off, right? Well, so are the restaurateurs who deal with this on a regular basis. The Colorado Restaurant Association recently held a meeting to discuss the problem.

"People don't realize that when a certain number is expected, the restaurant bakes bread and preps salads and schedules staff to be ready for an expected number of diners. When there are a lot of no-shows, that represents a lot of waste," says Sam Arnold, owner of The Fort. "I've had parties of thirty not show up and later discovered that they made reservations at several area restaurants to give the group a choice of places to go. No one bothered to call to cancel."

Arnold was among the sixteen CRA members who were invited to share concerns and possible solutions regarding the no-show dilemma. That group will present its ideas to the CRA's board; the issue then will be taken to the whole 4,000-restaurant membership.

Also attending the meeting was a representative from American Express; the company has published a booklet for restaurateurs with ideas from restaurants all over the country on how to handle the situation. American Express's favorite solution, of course, is to have restaurants take credit card numbers and deposits that would be nonrefundable if the party does not cancel the reservation. That would be cumbersome, says Pete Meersman, CRA's executive director. "We would rather do a consumer-awareness program to make sure people understand what happens when they don't show up," he says. Meersman adds that he sees many restaurants respond by declining to take reservations. "They're usually places that have been burned too many times--it's costly. People complain about places that don't take reservations, but you can't blame the restaurants." The bottom line: You're a stinker if you don't cancel your unwanted reservation.

Who Coors: Coors Brewing Company now offers a Coors Light Sun Can that displays a previously hidden "summer image"--one is a pair of sunglasses--when the can is exposed to the sun. The press release says, "Take the Sun Can out of the sunlight and the image slowly disappears. Bring it back into the sunlight and the image reappears." Folks, I think the entertainment possibilities are endless. The bad news is that it's the same beer inside the can. The "brand director" for Coors says, "Consumers are fascinated with the concept of having an image seemingly appear out of nowhere..." Does anyone else remember those beer mugs with babes in bikinis that stripped down when ice cubes were added? Now that was fascinating.

 
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