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Toronto restaurant scolds diner after missed reservation

Posted by Staff / July 19, 2014

toronto restaurant reservationFor small Toronto restaurants, the reservation system, no matter how you dice it, is not without its share of problems.

It's true. Dinner reservations are one of the few things in Toronto we can commit to and pull a no-show with no repercussions whatsoever, financial or otherwise. Life happens. That's a given. Flights are delayed, meetings run late. What small restaurant owners want us to know, though, is that reservation no-shows take a real bite out of their business.

Some, bluntly and without apology, are "calling people out" for pulling a disappearing act when their dinner is served, in hopes of changing a long-standing philosophy that it's no big deal to miss a reservation without a phone call. They say that if a dinner reservation was treated more like an appointment it could make the difference between success and struggle for their business.

Frank's Kitchen on College Street in Little Italy, run by husband and wife team Frank Parhizgar and Shawn Cooper, is one of them.

Cooper stands by this philosophy, she says, because no-shows are hurting her business, and her focus is to cultivate repeat business. "I wish I could say they are a rare occurrence, but I think the consciousness is changing because people like me and other small, husband and wife run places are gently educating people," she says.

"Larger restaurants can afford to lose a table or two but the new crop of tiny chef-owned and -operated restaurants simply cannot. The type of restaurants that are now opening and becoming popular have changed over the last couple of years, and the reservation policies have had to change as well, so that we can all stay afloat."

It can get tense, when a restaurant calls guests out and makes it a point to let them know that no-shows do have repercussions. For diner Matt Tummon, a self-described avid restaurant goer, that kind of philosophy is too strict.

"Comparing a dinner reservation to a doctor's appointment is ridiculous," he argues. "There are three meals a day every day of the year. You go to the doctor once a year."

He missed his reservation at Frank's Kitchen recently due to a meeting running late and says he was browbeaten for it. "I was wrong for not calling to inform them I would be missing my reservation and the voicemail they left me that night was more than sufficient. It was the second voicemail that was left two days later that was almost two minutes in length that is the real issue here in my opinion." 

From the restaurant's perspective, a small establishment without financial backers has a razor thin profit margin, so asking guests to be more aware of reservation commitments ultimately means a more enjoyable meal, bought and prepared with a specific number of diners in mind.

"At first I know people are like, 'Why do I have to give notice? Why are they making a big deal about it?' And I get it, how would they know? They wouldn't," Cooper acknowledges. "It's just about education. So I've spent years talking to people on the phone telling them, 'Here's why it's important to us,' and people are very cool."

Whippoorwill owner Shawn Creamer doesn't as avidly follow-up with guests who miss their reservation without notice, but says if it was up to him he would do away with reservations for his intimate, 43-seat restaurant.

"But we do them because it's necessary," he says. He uses online booking software ResBook, which is the only way people can make a reservation at Whippoorwill.

"But truthfully, 20 to 30 percent of those people don't show up... With a small restaurant it's so hard to make money in the first place. I'll phone people while we are saving the table when they are 20 minutes late and never hear back. It's such a kick in the teeth. I do think it's true that it's just not thought of."

The question seems to be then, how far should the restaurant go in asking people to change their philosophy as well? A voicemail? Two? A scolding? Telling customers they are no longer welcome? Tweeting the names of guests who don't show up?

"People will make a reservation at three or four different restaurants and then pick the one they want to go to that night and ignore the other ones," Creamer says.

"Some people don't see that they are hurting a small business, but I think it's important that people know, and I think it's worth educating them."

It can get tricky though, because a diner like Tummon feels like he was unfairly taken to task for an oversight about which he already felt guilty. Striking the right balance is food for thought for Toronto restaurant goers, as small restaurants are ready to bring them into the conversation, however boldly that entry may be.

What should restaurants do when diners don't show for reservations? Add your 2 cents to the comments below.

Writing by Erin O'Bourn



James / July 19, 2014 at 10:55 am
Yes, there should be consequences.

If an online system is used, like OpenTable, have them block the person from making reservations at that restaurant. If it turns out to be a repeat issue, perhaps block that account entirely. Odds of this happening are unlikely, as OpenTable likely wouldn't want to block accounts.

If it's a phone call direct to the restaurant, add that name and number to a list of restricted people, and refuse reservations to that person in the future.

There's no excuse to make a reservation, then decide against it and not let the business know.
Martin / July 19, 2014 at 11:49 am
What kind of jerk makes a reservation and does not bother to call to cancel? It's hard to believe people can be that inconsiderate.

I always find it slightly annoying that restaurants call to confirm the day of the reservation. If I'm busy, I then have to call back to confirm. Now that I see those numbers above, I understand hwy they have to inconvenience themselves and their clients to handle the potential jerks making reservations willy nilly.

As Jerry Seinfeld pointed out, anyone can make a reservation, but holding the reservation is the most important part.
Amy / July 19, 2014 at 11:59 am
Restaurants should let you know when making a reservation that theyll only hold it for 15 mins then theyre moving on. If you show up after that youll have to wait like everyone else.
Loodle / July 19, 2014 at 12:07 pm
I always thought it was common courtesy to call and let the restaurant know if you're able to keep your reservation or not or if you're going to be running late.
DL / July 19, 2014 at 12:21 pm
Shaming with multiple phone calls, and days later? Ridiculous! I understand you're trying to make a profit but there are many circumstances that would trump me feeling sorry that I missed a reservation!
This could be dealt with more appropriately by having a better reservation system. Why can't a system like OpenTable track users who fail to show up or are late by giving them a rating.
A missed reservations means it's tracked and that affects future reservations. Maybe the next time requiring you to put a deposit down to ensure your next booking? Or the lower priority your reservation has. If that user makes a reservation the owner can be notified of their previous history and could chose to call beforehand to confirm that reservation.
No shaming needed!
David Magda / July 19, 2014 at 01:50 pm
Perhaps instead of having reservations, they should perhaps sell tickets:

So if you want a seat on a certain day at a certain time, you go to a website and buy it, like for the cinema or a concert. Let's say it costs $20. You show up, show your ticket (which can be printed or on your (smart)phone), and get your seat.

At the end of your meal you get your cheque, and if it was (say) $80, then the prices of the ticket ($20) is subtracted, and so you only have to pay for the remaining $60.

Depending on the restaurant's policy, if you cancel your reservation with-in (e.g.) a day before the allotted time, you get a full refund (since there will probably be enough time for them to get someone else). If you don't show up the restaurant keeps the $20 (or whatever) dollars.

It would be up to the restaurant to determine how many seats they would reserve for tickets and how many are left unspoken for walk-ins.
SL / July 19, 2014 at 01:51 pm
Calling 2 days later to chastise someone over a missed reservation speaks volumes about what dining in TO has become. A pain. Rude servers, over priced food and treated like the customer should be thankful they got a table and food to begin with. If the stability of your business hinges so precariously on missed reservations, perhaps you need to reconsider your business model.
Dave / July 19, 2014 at 02:06 pm
What happen to 'hospitality' in this city.
BillyO / July 19, 2014 at 02:11 pm
The ticket system described a few posts above is being used at many great restaurants around the world, and I think it's only aayyer of time before we see it here in TO
Samantha / July 19, 2014 at 02:25 pm
Frank's kitchen once left me a long voicemail about how I didn't tip enough. I returned the call and had them charge my card a much larger tip but I'll never return there, and I was previously a regular. They treated me as if I dined and dashed.
Yes it is rude to miss a reservation, but they need to put a different policy in place besides bullying them with phone calls. It's pathetic and they are losing customers.
Mister LJ / July 19, 2014 at 02:33 pm
I think starting by politely asking guests to kindly call if they have to cancel, even If it's last minute, is a start. It's a reminder to guests that they actually are saving a seat for them.
Secondly, online reservations, whether it's for a restaurant, rental car, or hotel, tend to be the biggest no shows. Since the guest spoke to no one when booking, they are more likely to feel that cancelling isn't a big deal.
And lastly, if it is that big of a deal for restaurants, perhaps we need to go to a credit card system when booking a table.
I would imagine that calling customers to scold them for a missed res is a sure-fire way to make sure they never make another!
Lori / July 19, 2014 at 02:45 pm
We booked a reservation at a place called Frances in San Francisco. If we didn't cancel within 48 hours, we would be charged $25/person if they couldn't fill our table. It's too bad if there's a legitimate reason for missing (e.g. sick), but otherwise it's a pretty good plan for restaurants.
Mike Batty / July 19, 2014 at 02:58 pm
A party named Dave queried " what happened to hospitality" to which I might add what happened to common courtesy. It is only right if I make a reservation and can't make it I call and inform the restaurant. Yes the entitled generation exists on both sides of the the server. I much prefer my generation that employed manners.
Mark Blommers / July 19, 2014 at 03:28 pm
Wow, I agree with several people here, what kind of restaurant calls days later and leaves a second voicemail ridiculing the missed reservation, and calling for to small of a tip? Jesus Christ I'm surprised this restaurant is still open. Like someone said if your business gets hurt wIth one missed reso than you should pack up. I do agree that calling that you cant make it is just common courtesy but for slipping up once and getting ridiculed for it several times by he restaurant is just ridiculous , iv never been there but I certainly will not try it out
zhadu / July 19, 2014 at 03:48 pm
$50 no-show charge billed to the credit card.
infernalmachine / July 19, 2014 at 03:51 pm
i support the idea of a ticket / deposit policy. i'd combine it with a "25 minutes late and no call = no seat" policy.

i wouldn't be surprised if toronto was worse for this kind of behaviour from potential guests than other towns, because it's a perfect example of our "fuck everyone except me" mentality.
Andrew / July 19, 2014 at 03:55 pm
Matt Tummon should be glad he got just a gentle chiding. Restaurants like these operate on tight margins and a reservation made is possibly one denied to others who otherwise might have come or could have been refilled had there been a phone call. It takes a special kind of asshole to think this doesn't matter, or that because he was to be a paying customer that common courtesy or basic manners need not apply. If everyone were this way, we would see more small restaurants go under and then we can enjoy the big chain restaurants like TGI Fridays or Kelseys where this sort of douchebaggery can be absorbed (even then).
Jug City / July 19, 2014 at 04:09 pm
This should totally happen more often, and blogTO should continue to write stories about it. Maybe even include it as a best of Toronto list. It can be titled "Best restaurants to avoid asshole restaurant owners".
Joey replying to a comment from Jug City / July 19, 2014 at 04:49 pm
If blogTO does do a list, I'd prefer they write one for a post called "10 restaurants that don't take shit from inconsiderate assholes". Wouldn't it be nice for you, Jug City, to have a list of 10 restaurants you shouldn't go to?
Easy / July 19, 2014 at 04:51 pm
Very simple
Don't leave your real phone number when placing a reservation.
This way you won't be harassed for any sort of calling lists or by nasty owner who think it's appropriate to verbally assault a customer.
Frankly Unsurprised / July 19, 2014 at 04:56 pm
After being subject to Cooper's lousy, degrading, and ultimately humiliating attitude in regards to a reservation, I'm not too surprised that she rules her reservation book with this iron fist.

In February, I made a reservation at Frank's Kitchen for my boyfriend and I for my birthday celebration. Over the phone, the hostess let me know that there was only one table available. No problem, we booked anyway. (We had a lovely conversation!)

After our fantastic meal, we asked for the desert menu, when the hostess informed us that there was a 2 hour window for our table, so we would have to leave, or go to the bar. We were confused, as we weren't told this.
Cooper came by the table to find out what was wrong. The situation was explained, and she said 'No, that's not possible, you were told about the 2 hour limit.' After a humiliating back and forth with her, as she kept insisting that the situation was in fact, MY fault. My boyfriend interjected to express his disappointment, and that we weren't aware, and she says to him (this is word-for-word, I remember because it put me over the verge of tears at how she was talking to me) "No, I believe you didn't know, but SHE knew" as points her finger at me like I'm a bad puppy or something.

We paid the full bill (nothing was comp'd) as I was fighting back the tears (it was really upsetting to be treated the way she was treating me). It was an awful exchange, but they insisted, being really pushy, that we stay for a glass of champagne or coffee on the house, which is hilarious after a 300 dollar meal and borderline verbal abuse.

Then we went across the street to the Monarch to drink tequila shots and try to laugh it off. I understand that these things happen, but I'd be writing a much different review had the 2 hour issue been handled better. SHE should know.
Jason / July 19, 2014 at 05:00 pm
Charge a deposit of $20 for a reservation that you can redeem that day towards your bill. Easy.
Frank / July 19, 2014 at 05:16 pm
I have been in this industry foe over 15 years, high end hotels and restaurants. Never in my life have I heard of a place keeping a table for more then 30 mins and most won't after 15 mins and if they come in late they kep placed at the top of the list. I think this place is way out of line and because of that I would never set foot in that place. Things happen, life happens. Suck it up and move on this is the industry you are in. Keep the table for 15 mins past the reservation and give it away. End of story
Sam / July 19, 2014 at 05:29 pm
I own a small restaurant. We have had 2 no shows in the last years. I take down their phone number and call if they don't show to ask if they still want me to hold the table.

I once had a reservation for 20 at 7:30 that stayed until closing. They asked to split the check 20 ways and the average tip was 7%. I made sure that none of the staff was rude and smiled until they left but it was a big loss for us that night. It's these extreme situations that make some restaurant owners act nasty. I think it is part of the business. Some days are great, some days are not.
Henry / July 19, 2014 at 05:39 pm
I love the comment that starts by suggesting the restaurant was "shaming" this inconsiderate asshole because they phoned him.

We are, without a doubt, the biggest collection of whining, self-absorbed babies in world history. Anyone who disagrees with you is automatically a "bully" and when they prove it, they're "shaming" you.

Charge a credit card $25.00 for the reservation and hold the table for 20 minutes. If you flake out, your deposit is gone. When you show up on time, your deposit is subtracted from your bill. If this is as serious a problem as this article claims, every small restaurant will welcome immediately.
Tracy / July 19, 2014 at 05:43 pm
I think that to curb this problem individuals wishing to reserve a table in a restaurant should have to do so on line for a fee. If its important people will be willing to pay for this service. The understanding should be that the reservation service fee will be non refundable. Every other service does this. Why not restaurants?
mel / July 19, 2014 at 05:55 pm
Wow! After hearing all these awful stories about Franks Kitchen (harassing phone calls, verbal abuse), I will NEVER eat there! And I over tip, always keep my reservation, & eat my meal in less than 2 hours!!
buh / July 19, 2014 at 06:10 pm
If a reserving customer is 10 minutes late for their reservation, give the table away to a walk-in customer. If you don't have a walk-in customer waiting for a table, your establishment is probably not worth keeping in business. These business owners need to find another line of business to tend to.
Angelo Hillcrest / July 19, 2014 at 06:14 pm
As a restaurant manager in city, I can tell you that the no-call, no-show is a huge problem running rampant. We require deposits for booking large parties, but only parties over 8 leaving us with about a 10% no-show rate. Ticketing seems like a great option, but could also be to much of a road-block and deter potential customers.

My advice to the restaurant managers out there, get smart about your reservations; call guests the day before and confirm every reservation; let them know you will give their table away after 15 minutes without a call, take deposits for parties, encourage walk-ins, and take some risks; over-book a little and have a plan on how to add a table somewhere in the restaurant if you ever need it. If all of your reservations show; apologize and buy them a drink at the bar or send an app out with compliments. Lastly, use the reservation software properly and add notes to guests profiles and look at their history if there is one.

While I wish Toronto diners could be more courteous, it's much easier to spend your time problem solving on how to run your reservation book and plan for what you should know is part of the business.
chephy / July 19, 2014 at 06:26 pm
Wow. Yeah, I agree, not calling back to cancel a reservation is not great. But calling customers and harassing them about a tip that's too small or a missed reservation (twice)? That's unfathomable. I'm with mel on this one -- good to know that Frank's Kitchen is a place to avoid.
Shawn & Frank / July 19, 2014 at 08:24 pm
Guys, You need to have all the information in front of you first. There are many assumptions being made. The first call is not a call addressing a no show, it is a call we make to anyone running late for their reservation. We say "Hi, we are calling about your 8pm reservation, just inquiring as to what time you think you may be arriving, we are holding open your table and hope to see you soon". We are not at that point even considering that they aren't coming we are just assuming they are late. But in case they aren't coming we mention in the initial call that we are holding open the table for them, honouring the reservation, so that in case they don't realize, they can then call us to say release the table. I would never just give a table away after 15 minutes, people book weeks in advance and their reservations are important to them, just like to us.
We are a tiny 12 table restaurant and we just don't get walk ins, as we are reservation based so cannot just easily replace a table. We confirm day of as well, and we do give the guest an extra day to get back to us in case something happened that was unforeseeable, we are not unreasonable, shit happens, we get that. But when a guest sees a restaurant calling and knows they have a reservation that they are not coming for and cannot pick up the phone to say, "hey I can't make it" and then says they feel guilty but make no follow up call to the restaurant saying something, it's obvious they don't care and usually that's just because they don't realize the impact. That's why there was an extra day in between, as we always give the guest the opportunity to give us a call after the fact, we do ask for a return call in the initial call. We lose anywhere between 20 to 50% of our reservations. And then are scrambling to fill those spots with our waiting list, who by then have booked elsewhere. It is a rampant issue not just a one off. We are also declining people who really want to come. The "no show" message is not scolding it's just information as to what a no show means in a small family run business, and that basically "it just takes a second to make a courtesy call so that we have the opportunity to release the table to someone else that might be calling or the rare walk in" we do also say that "every seat really counts for us and that it does hurt us when this happens". I can see how it might seem like scolding when it's information you don't care about but it means the world to us, and for sure I get upset, because it does happen so often. We work very hard at our livelihood, our customers are like our family, of course there may be the odd issue with a guest, but we love our clientele and treat them like gold when they are here. We have such passion for service that being misunderstood so badly is pretty heart wrenching. In the end people will believe what they believe.
Sorry for the long response.
Picky Eater / July 19, 2014 at 09:19 pm
I have never not kept a reservation without calling the restaurant a.s.a.p. I think it is incredibly rude & inconsiderate. That said, I am disappointed that so many establishments would prefer to do away with reservations all together.
Frank & Shawn replying to a comment from mel / July 19, 2014 at 09:33 pm
There is false information happening now. In response to the phone call about us calling about the amount of the tip. It would have to be an extreme scenario for us to call a customer about a tip. When a really poor tip or no tip happens it's a red flag for any manager. When the a server feels they gave great service, It's our responsibility to do a follow up phone call to make sure everything was ok. As the tip is a reflection of the service given.
emma / July 19, 2014 at 09:53 pm
I have been to Frank's kitchen numerous times and have never ha bad service. They have aalways been super nice and have alwaya tried to fit me in if possible.

Besides the service you all must know that this ia by far one of the very top restaurants in the city. There are so many terrible restaurants in Toronto and this is the one you people are trying to give a bad name too? I could give you a list multiple pages long!!!

If you have not been to Frank's kitchen GO!!!! It will not disappoint!!!!
mel replying to a comment from Frank & Shawn / July 19, 2014 at 10:15 pm
There should never be a phone call regarding tip. That is completely uncalled for. People from some countries and cultures do not tip or don't understand the tipping procedure. It is also a personal choice. To call regarding a bad tip is completely unprofessional and a turn off. To call twice about missing a reservation is uncalled for and if I'm to believe Frankly Unsurprised's comments, berating customers after spending a large amount of money, in the middle of a busy restaurant, is TOTALLY & COMPLETELY UNCALLED FOR!!! I was a server in a busy restaurant to help pay for college, and if I ever did any of these things, I would've been fired! Customer service is to service customers!!!! Bad tipping and lost reservations are all apart of the restaurant business. Acting like a bully and belittling & humiliating your customers is not. But granted, I will have to find out for myself. I will be trying Frank's Kitchen in the near future, and will come back to comment on the service. And the phone calls....
Ciara Foy replying to a comment from mel / July 19, 2014 at 10:32 pm
What they are saying is that if little to no tip is left, they want to follow up with their customer to see if there was an issue they were not aware of. That is actually going above and beyond.
Jason replying to a comment from emma / July 19, 2014 at 10:45 pm
Frank & Shawn, your explanation sounds more credible than the others, but something seems broken here and I would encourage you to think about different ways of managing your book. Perhaps you should establish a policy of giving away tables?

In any event, you will need to change your reservation policy after this story, as I suspect you're going to get a lot of jerks calling to book tables with no intention of ever showing up.
Linda / July 19, 2014 at 11:10 pm
I am one of the people who benefits from no-shows and cancellations because I find myself wanting to eat at great restaurants with friends with little planning. We just aced a great meal at 6:30pm last week at Bar Isabel because I called early and there was a cancellation. I am grateful for you people who don't bother to go to great restaurants (and I highly recommend Frank's Kitchen) so we can occasionally luck out for an impromptu wonderful meal. I would be happy if restaurants could post those lost reservations so I could come eat at a normal hour instead of 5 or 8:30pm. I might be wrong but it seems to me that Toronto food is on fire--there is great food being made all over, for all kinds of prices, cuisines, a great mix of food cultures--amazing food. We should respect the work and dedication of the people who produce it and just do things like keep our promises and arrive on time.
Alex / July 19, 2014 at 11:12 pm
Shame on BlogTO for posting this piece.
Franks is a fantastical restaurant run by a great team. I've eaten there dozens of times and loved the experience. Shame on those of you who comment here saying you hope this resto closes - it is the life work of two people who love beautiful, tasty food and good service which they more than deliver on. I'll be going again and from my experience this article got a bit heavy handed with the salacious BS. Frank and Shaun have commented here with their perspective and I hope everyone reads their point of view. C'mon Blog TO you are usually better than that.
Nancy / July 19, 2014 at 11:40 pm
Frank's Kitchen is my favourite restaurant absolutely. Frank and Shawn are nothing but consummate and kind professionals and they always make me and the many guests I have brought to their fine restaurant feel very welcome. I choose to regularly celebrate birthdays and other special events at Frank's Kitchen because I know that I will always be treated warmly, and with courtesy. Their food and service is always outstanding. Every single time. I highly doubt that Matt Tummon was "scolded" for not keeping his reservation. This sounds a bit melodramatic, doesn't it? It sounds to me as though he needs to grow up and accept responsibility for his lack of courtesy. Again, Frank's Kitchen is fantastic!
Not surprised / July 20, 2014 at 12:23 am
I'm not at all surprised that this issue is raised at this point; missed reservations are a city-wide fallout of Summerlicious and Winterlicious. They have spawned a selfish mentality of diners who apparently only eat out twice a year, and feel no compunction at making reservations in two or three restaurants for their groups, and then choosing their favourite at the last moment. Rarely do any of them even bother to phone and cancel. Summer and Winterlicious had their moments, but that was a long time ago. They are becoming a waste of time and energy.
Spot on !! replying to a comment from Angelo Hillcrest / July 20, 2014 at 01:25 am
I agree with you 100% !! What you say does work, it allows regulars to know that a phone call guarantees a table and also the new diners need to know that the table will only be held for 15 mins at the time of the reservation. All this can be done politely, every business must have house policies - not just Hospitality. It becomes a matter of perspective - if I put a hold on a book at the library ( which I can also do online ) and forget to pick it up or change my mind then should I feel as guilty about changing my mind when booking a cab, a table in a restaurant or a plumber to fix my toilet which has actually cleared itself but I neglect to let them know ?? I believe that the plumber is still going to charge me for his time and labour lost !! The librarian payed a wage to bring the book from the stack and return it and the restauranter watches money walk out the door as walkins are turned away whilst a table sits vacant and the cabbie wastes fuel and time honking at your door........
TracyM / July 20, 2014 at 03:15 am
It's a shame that this small restaurant is being bullied online & that people are hoping that it closes down. I've never been to Frank's Kitchen. But if I had & didn't enjoy it - for whatever reason, I would never go there again & I would tell my friends too. Word of Mouth us very powerful. Not slam them on a blog. I frequent my neighbourhood restaurant which is also small, which I prefer. They aren't restricted to reservations only. Of course, they take walk-ins! Why wouldn't they?! Besides if you make a reservation or an appt with a service, it's just common corteousy to call to cancel or say that you'll be late. We really don't have any excuses these days as there are an infinite number of choices to remind us on our smartphones. If someone is rude enough to not show up or call to cancel their reservation or appt, then it should just be noted for any future bookings. It's not worth the bother for small restaurant owners to even bother contacting ignorant people back. Just don't accept their next reservation - simple as that.
Esavage / July 20, 2014 at 03:16 am
Frank's Kitchen is a family-run, mom-and-pop shoppe success story with 5 years longevity, and 5- star ratings across the board from professional food critics and bloggers/guests alike. It is because of the conscientious and diligent loving care that is taken by the owners and staff and delivered to the guests, on each and every occasion, that this tiny yet big-hearted resto has won every hard-earned accolade that it so well deserves. More than a dozen hours of labour precede every four-hour dinner service; Frank shops in the market every single morning, travels to local sustainable farms weekly to procure the meats that he butchers in-house, creates his own hand-made artisanal cheeses on-site, bread from scratch daily, makes his own pottery in which to serve many of his dishes, cooks every day in the restaurant, hand-plates every dish, and spends 100+ hours every week on the labour of love that is this truly beautiful and one-of-a-kind restaurant. The level of commitment and care that translates into the dining experience here simply cannot be overstated. Restaurants of this kind (which are rare) survive on a razor thin profit margin and every seat in the house really counts for their survival. A dinner reservation is a commitment between the establishment and the guest; we would not give away your table in a cavalier fashion nor would we expect that our guests would stand us up. We are fair and reasonable folks and do acknowledge that unforeseen circumstances do occur. The suggestion that a guest has been berated or scolded in these instances is utter nonsense. It has never happened. We wish only to communicate what a lost table means to us, and to avoid the serial no-showers who are a threat to all indie restaurants like ours (it's an epidemic...really). The idea of "ticketing" or charging a credit card for a missed reservation seems a tactless and unnecessary measure when the majority of our clientele honours their reservations or handles their cancellations in a timely fashion. It is unfortunate that the few who do not, cost us dearly. This is a business like any other, yet there is no behemoth financial backer to make up the difference when revenue is lost because we've held a table for guests who don't turn up (and even worse, other guests have been declined because of it).
Aaron / July 20, 2014 at 08:23 am
More often than not, I, along with relatives or friends visited some fine restaurants only to be told we needed reservations. Looking inside, the restaurant is 80% empty. They tell us it's empty because the tables have resevations. But suppose the tables are reserved for 6:00 pm and we're standing there at 6:50 pm, why won't the restaurant just say, "The table is yours!"? The hell to those who reserved and are no-shows.
JC / July 20, 2014 at 09:03 am
No matter what, a "scolding" is not a solution. That reads more like punishment for a child, and before anyone says it - yes I know plenty of adults act like spoiled children, but that doesn't mean everyone should be treated that way. I think if you run a reservation system that requiring a credit card and a fee for no-shows is a much better approach. Obviously it won't be enough to totally compensate, but believe me, when people have a hand out there hovering over a credit card charge, they'll be a lot more considerate. Just have a clearly spelled out policy in terms of due notice, be flexible with regulars or those that clearly try their best to be fair to your business, and I'm betting the number of people pulling this nonsense will plummet.
Vince / July 20, 2014 at 09:04 am
It looks like the article and many reviewers are equating eating with Franks Kitchen - eating is something you do at a hot dog stand, a food truck or any of the many QSR restaurants. Restaurants like Franks Kitchen offer original culinary experiences - you don't EAT there! Let's look at it from the other side - how would you feel if you show up for your 8pm reservation and the table is not ready or the reservation no longer available? I do believe that most professional restaurant goers would be courteous enough to call and cancel a reservation if they can't make it - or call to let them know that they are running late. BTW if given the choice between Frank's Kitchen and a doctors appointment - I would pick Frank's every time.
No shows / July 20, 2014 at 10:47 am
As someone who works in the industry, I can say it is quite annoying when there are no shows. You've set aside a table for the guest, and if they do not show up you can't guarantee a walk-in will even come in that night to fill the now-empty table.
Open Table does have a sort of point system where users are penalized when a reservation is changed to a "No Show" but a lot of people don't use OT enough for that be a good incentive to honor reservations.
As for charging individuals for their reservation, it's kind of a hassle and I think it could potentially deter customers who would rather become a walk-in rather than make a reservation and fear that they'll be some sort of fee if something happens and they can't make it.

Point is, I totally agree with what the article states in the beginning in that there needs to be a change in peoples perceptions that it's OK to not show up when you make a reservation. It's not that hard to give a call or update your Open Table status if you can't make it. However, this restaurants approach is BAD PRESS and I'm guessing this article is potentially turning away business which is kind of ironic.
Danielle replying to a comment from Me / July 20, 2014 at 10:51 am
If you can afford to go to a nice restaurant, you should budget to tip accordingly. Sounds like Shawn and Frank had the misfortunate experience of having you as a diner! I've eaten there multiple times. It is a Toronto gem. Passion and creativity and love for the guest (who else gives comp amuse-boucher and homemade truffles).
david / July 20, 2014 at 11:12 am
i say good for the owners... you get to choose who your clients are, and anyone inconsiderate enough to be a douchebag is someone you don't want in your establishment (AS WELL AS THEIR FRIENDS!)

15 minutes, or back of the line, says me
What's a Bad Tip? / July 20, 2014 at 11:53 am
I wonder what kind of percentage tip would be considered bad at Frank's Kitchen? If "Me" claims to have given "over the well above the norm" then someone here has to be lying. Assume 15% is the norm and "Me" gave 18-20%. Surely the people at Frank's wouldn't consider this a red flag. Something doesn't add up.
@ Vince / July 20, 2014 at 11:55 am
Vince, that was the silliest thing I have ever read in my life. Wtf do you mean you don't "eat" there? OF COURSE you eat there. Stop trying to put Frank's in the same category as the finest and most exclusive restaurants in the world. You go in, you eat and you pay your bill. They take your money from you, therefore YOU are the client, YOU are paying their bills, and YOU are eating. Restaurant owners work for US, not the other way around. Two hour window? No thanks, unless it is CLEARLY stated at time of reservation and CLEARLY reconfirmed at the beginning of the meal. That is simple Restaurant Management 101, not rocket science. Scolding a girl like that was completely unacceptable.

Try that load of "you are not worthy" bs on someone a bit more gullible. I'm getting a very bad vibe from this restaurant over this entire issue, and will not be trying it out.
What!??!? / July 20, 2014 at 11:59 am
If restaurant staff ever came up to me and berated me for not tipping enough, I would take back the insufficient tip and leave them zero. Tipping levels are completely at the whim of the diner, and there are no laws in Canada making it obligatory. Personally I over-tip unless I get bad service, but it is beyond cheeky if the staff question your tipping habits. That is none of their business. You win some, you lose some. Suck it up.
Jeremy / July 20, 2014 at 12:11 pm
Ah who needs small joints like Frank's anyway who don't have the business model to withstand 50% of their reservations not showing up?! Makes way for more Jack Astors, Moxies and some of the other top chain restaurants who can!

And tipping? SO WHAT if you leave 6% on a $250 bill? I do what I want with my money as should you. All that stuff about not being able to dine out if you can't afford to tip properly? You're just jealous that OUR meal is cheaper than yours! BOOM!

Don't feel bad people who don't call in to cancel a reservation - if the restaurant is just going to call and hold you to your agreed upon booking, they probably don't have anything better to do with themselves and should probably close up shop.


....I love it when people get upset when someone holds you to a proper level of human decency and then get all defensive about it, for whatever reason.
Pierrot / July 20, 2014 at 12:39 pm
I think it is amazing that Frank and Shawn went above and beyond to scold the "no shows". A lot of diners can be such insensitive jerks sometimes.

If you can't make it, let the restaurant know. It's just common courtesy! It is very much like a doctor's appointment or a job interview - if you can't make it, let them know!

You know why people don't like to call to cancel? Because they don't like to admit they are imperfect. It's an uncomfortable call filled with a range of excuses. However, suck it up and just do it. If you don't have the courtesy to do that, then you do need some re-education à la Frank and Shawn.

PS: This article makes me want to eat at Frank's Kitchen now, so I don't think the bad press is working. Haters must be upset now that their smear tactics aren't working. Boohoo....
Bdpd / July 20, 2014 at 12:49 pm
There is a pattern emerging in the comments above. It's clear that this restaurant would rather be right than accepting of the normal challenges of running a small business. Calling people about the size of their tip or shaming them into leaving a table in order to be able to turn it? Those are all 'us first' policies and not in any way customer-centric. Sorry folks. You're in the customer service biz. If you don't like it, you need to find a new business, but don't be blaming customers for your problems.
Therapy-ish / July 20, 2014 at 01:04 pm

It's like what they say in therapy: you can't change other people, but you can change the way you react to them. It sounds pretty condescending to take on the task of 'educating' people on reservation courtesy. If your current system isn't working, make a change. Don't expect other people to change to suit your needs. It's a 'take control of your own destiny' kind of thing. It's gotta be exhausting trying to force people to change for you.

I was going to say my suggestion sounds overdramatic, but given the rest of the comments... I think it's pretty solid!
Duncan / July 20, 2014 at 01:35 pm
My wife and I have enjoyed dining at Frank's Place 2 -3 times per year since they opened. Our experience from when we booked the reservation to finish has always been great both from a service, staff friendliness and food quality perspective. It is our "go to" restaurant when we are celebrating special occasions or when we have guests in from out of town. Everyone we have brought to Frank's Place has commented on how great it was.

It is difficult to run a restaurant and make a decent living do so and I expect it is harder to do this in a fine dining restaurant with a limited number of seats which becomes even more difficult with people who make reservations and don't show up.

With the number of no-shows and late cancellations that all restaurants seem to be experiencing these days, it is more than reasonable on the part of the restaurant to ask for credit card information and, with advance notice, charge someone a reasonable fee if they don't show up for a reservation or cancel with extremely short notice. From personal experience in New York City and London, England, we have had this request made of us when booking a reservation and it wasn't an issue for us as we showed up for our booking.

The other irritating thing about people booking reservations and not showing up is that it prevents other people from getting a reservation on the date and time that they would like. We've had this happen a couple of times at Frank's Place where we have tried to get a reservation early in the week for a Friday night but they have been booked up. We then make alternative arrangements for dinner in order to find out on Friday that spots have been available due to last minute cancellations.

Booking a reservation is not a one way obligation. The person doing the booking is obligated to show up at the appointed time and the restaurant is obligated to have the table ready at that time. It's amazing how well everything works and how enjoyable the dining experience can be when both parties live up to their obligation.

bob / July 20, 2014 at 02:14 pm
Shame on you BlogTO. How can you single out one restaurant and potentially compromise their livelihood and still sleep at night. This article is nothing but a sensationalist puff piece meant to rile up the comments section and draw negative attention. If you want to write such slanderous, one-sided editorials, don't hide behind "Posted by Staff" and take responsibility for your misguided content. It is increasingly challenging to manage expectations in the service/hospitality industry from both the establishment and customer point of view. Please read this restaurants reviews elsewhere and judge them accordingly. BlogTo, you and I are usually on the same page, but this is pretty pathetic.
Dave / July 20, 2014 at 03:30 pm
I stumbled upon this article looking for review of Frank's Kitchen, as I heard great things from friends and was thinking about making a reservation. Seems to me that after reading the piece, and the comments - that this/the occurrences noted in the comments are regular happenings. Basically, all the same comments/defensive novels written here by the owners and thier friends, can also be found on Urbanspoon. That being said, just sounds like a case of owners taking a great passion in their craft. Fine. However, it takes more than passion and good food to keep interest in a restaurant. Lose the hot headed attitude and realize just how MANY restaurants are in this great City, and how you can please the customer - not the other way around. Life happens: people miss appointments, reservations, parties what have you. Yes, a call to say you cannot make it is obviously courteous but sometimes it just doesn't happen. Get over it, and if a table doesn't show within 15 mins, seat some other patrons! This is very common and when I worked in the service industry years ago, this is what our owners mandated.

Scolding a potential customer over missing DINNER is ridiculous. Just remember their name, and refuse reservations in the future. Leaving another message 2 days later is on the tip of harassment. Berating a customer over a tip, is unreal. This is out of your control. Pushing customers out the door after 2 hours, totally stupid. Ruins the meal, and restaurant. All these 3 things are not customer oriented and solely, owner oriented. Maybe this is something to think about considering you are in the customer industry?
Dave / July 20, 2014 at 03:35 pm
One more thing to add -

On my search for reviews of Frank's Kitchen, I also checked out your twitter account in search of pictures and I cannot believe you retwitted a post of this article with calling the diner in this article a "douche". Super professional! Again, I think it's time to lose the temper and rethink your branding/customer strategy.
Never Been / July 20, 2014 at 03:47 pm
Wow, their twitter feed is awful. Almost all of their tweets are copied and pasted from Yelp. There's no mention of the "currently not recommended" reviews from Yelp, although the owner took the time to respond rudely to them all before marking them as not recommended... Yikes.
mike / July 20, 2014 at 04:06 pm
Funny how these same restaurants don't ante up to customers when the food & or service are bad.
Doug / July 20, 2014 at 05:39 pm
Leave it to internet trolls for self- righteousness and faux outrage. Don't show up for your reservation and you are upset that someone called you on it? Beyond ridiculous. I have dined there repeatedly and have only had good experiences - no wait, great experiences. As for the tipping story, isn't it good service to try to figure out the problem? Leaving a bad tip is a clear message that you were unhappy. If someone called to ask about it, surely you ought to welcome the opportunity to explain your complaint. If not, then you have been an anonymous internet commentator for too long.
Sophie / July 20, 2014 at 05:53 pm
I was taken here on a (first) date, at which time he made our reservation for 7:30.
We were left waiting for over 15 minutes to be seated!

What do i get for that inconvenience?
oh yeah. NOTHING.

Rob Keto / July 20, 2014 at 06:14 pm

Rob Keto
July 20 at 4:52am

Showing up to a restaurant later than your reservation time or not at all is equivalent to showing up 15 minute before they close. You don't want the people who are preparing your food to despise you. Restaurant owners and workers already work more hours than the average person for far less than they deserve to be paid. Add to that the razor thin profit margins and you can understand their grievance with patrons who skip out on their reservations. I'd gladly agree with paying a small fee for not showing up for a reservation (without reasonable notice).
Julia Mintha / July 20, 2014 at 06:16 pm

Julie Mintha
July 20 at 1:43am

Knowing owners of popular restaurants in the city - like Franks - the rules are the rules. Why should you expect special treatment when you are late. I'm sure Matt would want people to be on time if he were the owner! Sounds like whining to me!
Zi / July 20, 2014 at 06:23 pm
It's the customer who gets the final say if he or she decides to take the seat and up to the restauranteur to do the table arranging. If customers don't turn up for a reservation then odds are the same people would not have walked in off the street. That means the same empty table would still be empty.

I get that restaurants operate under tight margins. But that doesn't give restaurants the right to demand people treat the reservation like a blood pact. It isn't. It's a meal. That same restaurant is more than free to hand that table to a walk in after an acceptable amount of time. Face it, people will become unhappy for a vast number of reasons and you can't make everyone happy every time. And berating no shows is a poor business practice.

On a personal note, I would not pay a deposit for a restaurant meal if a restaurant insisted on a cancellation charge upon making a reservation. I would call and cancel a reservation but being made to feel that I've entered into a contractual obligation over a meal is just ridiculous.
Susan A / July 20, 2014 at 06:40 pm
It's a simple courtesy to inform the restaurant that you will be late or that you are cancelling. The trouble with Toronto is that is thinks it's sophisticated but it isn't. Try making a reservation in London, UK. I made several at different restaurants in March (all of which I honoured). Each one emailed AND phoned to make sure that my party would be there. One phoned a week ahead and then again a day ahead. Most of these restaurants were small establishments and even though they are very popular and highly-rated, they need to fill their tables. These people are passionate about food, as are the proprietors of Frank's Kitchen, but they are in business, people! Without customers, there can be no food prepared or served. Let's get real.
SC replying to a comment from Zi / July 20, 2014 at 06:46 pm

In popular places, the table would not have sat empty as there are other guests declined that are on a waiting list that with a little notice would be happy to attend.
Liza / July 20, 2014 at 07:11 pm
I was recently in New York and made reservations in advance at two well-reviewed restaurants, one in Manhattan and one in Williamsburg. They both had really hardcore reservation policies: one didn't hold the table if you didn't call to (re-)confirm the reservation the day before, and the other charged a staggering $100 to your credit card if you didn't show up (you had to provide your card number when you made the reservation). Insane, right? But it worked. We showed up. And both places were really good, with fantastic service. Maybe restaurants here that take reservations should follow a similar model...

Just try it with me / July 20, 2014 at 07:26 pm
When I started to read the article, I was sympathizing with the restaurant owners. Now that I am finished, and have read the comments (half of which sound like they were written by the owners) there isn't a chance in Hell that I would ever go to Frank's restaurant. Of course it is beyond annoying when there is a no-show, and it is irritating when someone under-tips. But to call those people and rag them out? My jaw hit the floor hearing those astonishing things. Completely, utterly unacceptable. If your restaurant is as busy as you claim, you can absorb the occasional no-show, or seat a walk in instead. After all, they are banging the door down, right?

Calling to ask "what was wrong with the service" because of an under-tip? Bullcrap. You are calling to belittle the customer who has paid for your food. And yes, it is food and they ate it, not some ethereal otherworld experience. That is a customer who will never return. You are the ones being taught a lesson here, not the undertipper.

Absolutely the most unprofessional behaviour I have ever heard. Oh, and whoever made the entry to try and insinuate that Torontonians are unsophisticated compared to London diners is beyond absurd. Frank's would last about a week in London or Paris, so spare us the major attitude. I'd love to see Frank try and bitch out a Londoner for under-tipping. They would tear him out a new bodily orifice.
Sorry, but the owners sound combative, pushy and borderline greedy if they can't absorb a few bumps along the way. Relax, already. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Don't be such sore losers.
Fawzi / July 20, 2014 at 08:09 pm
Unfortunately, not so many people understanding what reservation is mean for a small fine dining
As many people think fine dining like fast food just walking in
They don’t understand when it is a small family restaurant have someone didn’t show up we loose this income as they refuse other people in waiting of this one who doesn’t care or have some respect to himself so he just call to informed the restaurant
As it, happen few time often and you cannot ask credit card for everyone who make a reservation

It happen someone will call you 6 pm for making a reservation for 7:30 and half and hour after call for moving to 8 because he is in traffic as they said and just 7:45 they call to cancel really
Yes it it happen, or someone call at 7 to tell you they will be there in 30minute and they call you at 6:55 to cancel and you may be already lost someone else who call for a reservation but you have nothing left and you have this one called you to cancel just 5 minute before his time

The whole industry it is going down as so many people doesn’t understand your going outside to enjoy a nice dinner and that’s why you’re going o a nice restaurant so respect the place or don’t make a reservation if you’re not sure
In addition, for sure the worth when a group coming and they complain at end the food take too long or the service was too slow,
Why???????? Because the customers taking them time taking picture or sending text message and they take 15/30 minute to just open the menu and they complain after

Solution is simple / July 20, 2014 at 08:28 pm
If it is so threatening to the existence of a restaurant then take a credit card number for every reservation. This is a small restaurant, so it's not like there would be a huge number of reservations anyway. Tell the people if they don't show there is a $25 charge put on their card. Put an automatic 15% tip on parties of more than 6. Voila. Problem solved without insulting the local population. Customer relations are everything in a city with 10,000 restaurants to pick and choose from. In this case, that has been a fail.
What a joke / July 20, 2014 at 09:22 pm
I'd love to see a restaurant owner/worker try to chastise me for the ridiculous reasons above. Not only would you not get my money, but you'd be lucky not to get an earful in front of your dining room.

Don't get walk-ins? You're on one of the busiest pedestrian strips in the city. If you don't get walk-ins then there's a reason for it and there's something you need to fix.

I do agree that skipping out on a res w/o calling is terrible behaviour. Especially when the flip side is a no-res system - ie. every spot on Ossington. However, if you call me with a "lesson" to teach then you're going to get a lot more than you bargained for.
Pass The Table replying to a comment from Liza / July 20, 2014 at 09:55 pm
Unlike New York, Toronto may not be at the stage were many diners will be accepting of the credit card reservation policy. But we're not far off.

Reservations are increasingly sought after in the city and no-shows are through the roof for many of the reasons stated above. It's frustrating for eager diners. It hurts a restaurant's bottom line.

A new app will be launching in Toronto soon that allows users to skip the waitlist at a fully-booked restaurant by purchasing a reservation. Reservation holders will also be able to sell their table if they can't attend (incentivizing them against being a no-show). There's also a charitable component.

This provides diners with more opportunities to get into the places they want and restaurants with greater assurance that a diner will show up.
Opensource1111 / July 20, 2014 at 10:47 pm
I won't be patronizing Frank's Kitchen, ever. Who in their right mind, other than well established regulars and friends of the wieners would go to this place after reading the article and comments. You can't even say that the accusations are false, because the owner has chimed in to confirm them!! This is crazy! Talk about complete lack of understanding of brand marketing and image control. Even if a business owner is upset about a bad tip or no show, they should never vent these frustrations to anyone outside their circle of supporters. There is nothing to be gained by doing that. Too much "passion" and not enough brains and good judgement.
Daisy / July 20, 2014 at 10:53 pm
There's a restaurant in Chicago called Next that sells tickets for a seat at a table much like a theatre or sporting event. I think the concept is absolutely genius, because they were able to bring their no-show percentage down to virtually zero. If more restaurants started adopting this type of reservation system I think it would take a huge bite out of no shows.
Cabbagetown / July 20, 2014 at 11:32 pm
I read the article, read the comments, I even went on UrbanSpoon, Twitter and Yelp. It's pretty clear that a lot of people think very well of this place and have had very nice experiences there. It's also clear that Shawn is a bit combative online and that's probably not a good thing, as you can't win in these social media fora. As for me, I've made up my mind: I'm going to try this place. The food sounds amazing. I'll take my wife here for her birthday in September.
Wow / July 21, 2014 at 12:28 am
After reading the comments here, of which many of the positive ones read as if they are written by the same person, I had to check out this place on Yelp...

I only have a few things to say; Shawn, you are unbelievably arrogant! Arguing with customers who had a bad experience at your restaurant? Do you not understand basic customer service?? Telling them you wish you never accommodated them? One only has to go on Yelp and look at the poor reviews.. they all read the same.. "Bad service, poor attitude from server/owner", which echos the poor reviews left here on this post.

One gem that really stood out to me is quoted directly below. This is what Shawn had to say to a patron that sat at the bar at the end of an evening.

"When you arrived there were only staff here, and one table of 2 that we knew personally and were waiting for us. The music was off, candles blown out, bartender cashed out 40 minutes prior, but we turned the music back on, signed the bartender back in etc. without any mention of it to you, to accomodate you. I am so regretting that now, and instead should have said we were closing at the door. I figured why not, its just drinks and you seemed nice, so we accomodated you. Nothing worse than extending an extra courtesy to be nice and having it backfire so badly."

Esavage / July 21, 2014 at 01:22 am
Someone has to stand up in response to all the vitriol and venom being directed towards Shawn Cooper. In the interest of full disclosure, I am employed by this woman and she is nothing if not a shining example of warm and heartfelt hospitality. The trolls who are jumping on this ludicrous bandwagon have clearly NEVER set foot in her restaurant, or if they have (and I suspect that one or two jackasses are responsible for most of these obnoxious comments) then they are straight up lying. 98 out of 100 guests turn up. Our clientele are amazing and we love and cherish their business. They know this and we give them star treatment each and every time. The few who don't think a cancelled reservation deserves so much as a phone call are not our clientele anyway, but we would never blacklist someone without the courtesy of a "hey, what happened?" phone call. Many of the commenters here have suggested that we just keep a record of their names and refuse future reservations from them. But what about legitimate cancellations? Stuff happens, and we're not a bunch of unforgiving jerks. That's why we call you. Need to cancel? No problem. Call us. Try to give us 24 hours notice if at all possible so we can refill the table. How is that unreasonable?
SC replying to a comment from Wow / July 21, 2014 at 01:32 am
Ok come on this is way out of context, the whole review and response need to be posted. The story was the kitchen was closed a couple of hours earlier and FK was closing. They said they were coming in for drinks, and even though restaurant was closing down they were accomodated as it was just for a drink. Then half hour later the guest said they had others arriving later on to join them for dinner, and were told that unfortunately the kitchen was closed and the customers got upset. FK didn't want their friends making the trek for no reason, and had to tell them kitchen was closed.
Esavage / July 21, 2014 at 01:34 am
And regarding the tip issue, I know personally and it is a FACT that the only instances where Shawn has followed up with a guest about a poor tip is when it had been so apparently poor (like, 5% or less) as to alert her to a potential service disaster. This has happened less than a handful of times (only once in my year- long tenure) and it would be reckless for her NOT to inquire about that. This is not a chain resto...the servers who work here are consummate professionals and this is their livelihood; they take it seriously. A "more than adequate" tip, as the above commenter indicates, would have had to be so appallingly bad (5% or worse) to even merit Shawn's attention. And kudos to her for giving a damn about the livelihoods and well-being of her staff...many owners wouldn't even care because or doesn't affect their bottom line. Here is a place that truly means what it says with "family" restaurant. I am blessed to work for Shawn and Frank.
SC replying to a comment from Wow / July 21, 2014 at 01:44 am
Ok come on this is way out of context, the whole review and response need to be posted. The story was the kitchen was closed a couple of hours earlier and FK was closing. They said they were coming in for drinks, and even though restaurant was closing down they were accomodated as it was just for a drink. Then half hour later the guest said they had others arriving later on to join them for dinner, and were told that unfortunately the kitchen was closed and the customers got upset. FK didn't want their friends making the trek for no reason, and had to tell them kitchen was closed.
Esavage / July 21, 2014 at 02:53 am
And one final note before I depart his silly conversation: our much-beloved base clientele, for whom we would do backflips, are never the culprits of this. The no-showers and non-cancellors are well- known to local indie restaurateurs, yet they seem not to know how much they can hurt us; I hope this dialogue is a wake-up call to them. How would you feel if we gave away your table, willy-nilly?! Just honour your reservation, as we do. Cancel if you need to do so. Give us notice if you can. It's not that difficult.
david / July 21, 2014 at 07:57 am
so the verdicts are in... those who engage in "fair play" think one way, and the "entitlement crowd" feels another

after reading all these comments, it shouldn't be too hard to recognize traits and attitudes (and warning signs) from one group to the other, so FK should focus on the ones they prefer, and not allow themselves to feel a need to accommodate the opposite (and not lose sleep over it, either)

the missing phone call would be the first clue
Brian / July 21, 2014 at 09:19 am
A credit card and a $15 non-refundable deposit put on the card which in turn is to be applied against your final bill to get a reservation seems reasonable to me.
Olinda Dimas / July 21, 2014 at 10:15 am
I agree with R. C. When the trend seems to be towards a no reservations policy it's important to honour and respect the ones that still are holding a table for you. Guess what if the guys meeting was a no show and he didn't get paid for that meeting, maybe it would put things into perspective
it'sallinthedetails / July 21, 2014 at 10:16 am
Holy fuck, what about a 12-seat restaurant that cant afford to have no-shows is so hard to grasp? All the comments about how Frank's should pack up or figure out their business model are missing the point that it is a small intimate resto. People in Toronto are "rude thoughtless little pigs" (a la Alec Baldwin).
Alex T. / July 21, 2014 at 10:41 am
Shawn & Frank I would not make another comment on this site. BlogTo accomplished what they set out to do and that is bring more visitors to their website. This is just a sign that you have reached a new level of success & popularity. Once you start to climb the ladder of success there are always people who try to pull you down. You need to shake them off, keep focused and carry on. Your food is exceptional and the service is truly amazing. I am not sure how any one feels they are qualified to make a comment about you or your restaurant when they haven't even stepped foot in the place and have just read one gossipy sentence online. And remember you will never be able to please everyone. Your positive reviews greatly outnumber your negative ones and people are more likely to make the effort to post a negative comment. For anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of dinning at Frank's Kitchen you really should!
robert thomas / July 21, 2014 at 11:48 am
Credit card needed for a reservation.

$25.00 charge for non arrival.

Problem solved.
RH / July 21, 2014 at 12:38 pm
I won't dine at Frank's Kitchen again. I made a reservation about 2 years ago and then had to cancel 6 hours prior because my son was throwing up. They read me the riot act even though I told them my child was ill. They said I needed to give 24 hours notice. I told them that I would let my son know to let me know 24 hours before he decided to get sick next time. Nonethless, we went there this past April for my husband's birthday since we had heard good things. Our reservation was for 8pm. The food came at 9:45pm. Ridiculous. Not worth my time to go there again.
hatandcoat replying to a comment from Samantha / July 21, 2014 at 01:08 pm
Seriously? I can't believe that actually happened. I understand that there are 'guidelines' for tipping and that most people accept 15% as standard, but at the end of the day what you tip is your own business. Calling a customer to correct them is unacceptable. Where did they even get your number?
Numbers replying to a comment from Esavage / July 21, 2014 at 01:35 pm
You say, "98 out of 100 guests turn up" but Shawn & Frank above say, "We lose anywhere between 20 to 50% of our reservations."
So what's the truth?!

A restaurant losing 20-50% of their reservations... something ain't right, and that onus isn't 100% on the customer!

(To be fair, I've eaten at your establishment twice, and I'll reserve my comments of that experience.)
Hervé / July 21, 2014 at 01:36 pm
It's always the same with these restaurant articles. Owners/friends/employees mistakenly feel they should jump on the bandwagon and make a lot of defensive/angry comments with various assumed names. Almost always it backfires; especially when we followed links to Yelp and Twitter to see more lousy attitude. Frank and Shawn, do you really not get it that you are in no position to be phoning clients and "teaching them lessons", especially two days later? Ever heard of anger management? You may feel you "don't want" a customer who is a no show, but do you also not want their friends and families who listen to their stories about being bitched at because of a low tip or a missed reservation? It is not true that all publicity is good publicity because both the best and the worst advertising is word of mouth.
Finally, I've been in the restaurant business for decades. When I heard about you calling people over low tips, the first thing that I thought of is how much do Frank and Shawn take for the house from the waiter's tips? Just curious.

Esavage / July 21, 2014 at 01:57 pm
In response to "numbers" I believe that Shawn was misquoted (not to mention misrepresented in the article - I have never once seen her "scold" a guest). Of the 100+ phone calls we receive daily for reservations, a certain percentage books a table ( because we can accommodate their party size and desired arrival time) and of those bookings, another percentage cancels within the timeframe that we ask, a couple more might cancel last minute due to emergencies, and then there are the no shows. All told, 40-50% of people who call to book a table don't materialize. That's not the issue. We aren't rookies, here. We're calling out the no show/no call people as they deserve to be called out because they HURT our business and the livelihoods of staff who depend on it. Everyone had an opinion on our policies, but please note that this is a group of hospitality pros who have been doing this work for years. No one had mentioned a novel idea that hasn't been tried. It kills me that people think this industry is just easy-breezy and anyone can do it. It's not.
Shaz / July 21, 2014 at 02:01 pm
I think the real problem with this type of restaurant clientele that don't show up or make demands like spoiled brats is that they really have NO IDEA what working in or running a restaurant is like. These are the same people that try to cut a deal with an artist or complain that they can get a cheaper supplier rate elsewhere. You aren't the only one trying to make a living and EVERYONE in the restaurant industry would rather take someone else's money. But they put up with your crap because hospitality and entertainment is in our (restaurant worker's) nature. FINALLY when the customer ISN'T right, you put up a big stink on BlogTO. Try one night working in a restaurant, I dare you. THEN you have the right to dispute. Until then, shut up and go to Jack Astors. They fire anyone who gets a complaint.
Never Been / July 21, 2014 at 02:39 pm
"All told, 40-50% of people who call to book a table don't materialize."

Samantha replying to a comment from hatandcoat / July 21, 2014 at 03:12 pm
Oh they had it from the reservation. Looking back, I should have told them to f*** off, but I felt so bad. After telling them they could charge x amount extra for a larger tip, they didn't even thank me. Never again.
really?? / July 21, 2014 at 04:13 pm
After reading all the comments I can see perspectives from both sides; however I choose never to try this restaurant because I don't want to feel nervous about misbehaving to THEIR standards and get humiliated for. Sure it is etiquette to call to cancel but when they don't, we as customers should not be called to get nagged at for so called "education". Disappointments happen in all business, suck it up and try to over-achieve on the customers that you do have.
Wow replying to a comment from SC / July 21, 2014 at 04:23 pm
I'm sure everyone knows where Yelp is.. in case you missed it, I mentioned it in my comment. However, since my last comment, I see you have gone through your profile over there and deleted all the rude/combative responses you've left, including the review that I quoted from. Too funny...

TODiner / July 21, 2014 at 08:07 pm
I took the time to cancel my reservation at Frank's Kitchen and they called me back to berate me. It was totally uncalled for and I vowed never to visit that establishment because of it. There are many other good restos in this city without that kind of attitude.
Opensource1111 / July 21, 2014 at 08:37 pm
I'm annoyed because I did want to try this place out. From what I've seen, the food looks good! However, dining out is more than just good food, as a previous commenter mentioned. It is about the entire experience of being made to feel good. Restaurants and their employees are there to make my night run smoothly and pleasantly. Bring me delicious, beautiful food, smile as you do it, and then fade away. In the end, I will reward you with money. It's that simple. This is the relationship most diners want with their restaurants. I would worry now whether I would catch a server or owner on a bad night and that could ruin my experience. Think of Canoe as a dining experience. It seems their staff from front of house to server all understand the customer is king.
Master Bruce / July 21, 2014 at 10:50 pm
It is very disappointing to see Frank's Kitchen mentioned in an article like this as they are likely the best restaurant in Little Italy. It's very rare that a restaurant can turn you off before you step foot in the door, or taste the food - good job Frank!

Note to restaurateurs: YOU ARE IN THE SERVICE BUSINESS! REPEAT CUSTOMERS ARE NOT BORN OUT OF PUBLIC SHAMING OR HARASSMENT FOR MISSING A RESERVATION! This will have no positive impact on your profits, what an insane waste of time.

This is absolutely ridiculous. @Frank, if you're reading this, maybe you should call on all of the people who tried to make reservations unsuccessfully that night and tell them you'd be thrilled to serve them if they are still available. I know I have tried to make reservations at times that you couldn't accommodate multiple times.

The service industry in Toronto is up for grabs. The bar has been set so low.
Danielle replying to a comment from Samantha / July 22, 2014 at 04:38 am
Really? As a server, I know the industry. How much would the tip be anyways? $10 more? Is it really worth it than to lose a regular? That's just insane.
Spike / July 22, 2014 at 06:23 am
People who can't tip or keep a reservation: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE stick to places like Jack Astor's and don't go to places that require a reservation if you're going to be like this.
John replying to a comment from Esavage / July 22, 2014 at 07:54 am
Esavage.....Calling customers and potential customers "trolls" only shows that customer service is lacking at this restaurant. You did them no favours, being employed by them, by referring to people in that manner. If that's the way you think of people, you need to get out of the hospitality business.
I've never dined at their restaurant and thought Shawn's response was credible...until you opened your mouth and showed that comments about staff at this particular place might be true.
WilliamT / July 22, 2014 at 08:54 am
Honestly - the unbelievable lack of understanding displayed by the owners and employees of this restaurant is staggering!! This is called the service/hospitality industry. It truly sucks that this guy missed his reservation - but that is as they say 'life in the big city'. The fact that these owners/employees are still berating this guy and people like him is unfathomable to me. These folks may know how to create an amazing meal but their sheer lack of undertsanding about overall diner experience/word of mouth/repeat business is mind-bending. And to the staff members who keep telling people to go back to 'Jack Astors'...whaaat??? How you will still have a job tomorrow is stunning. Actually maybe not - given everything I have read here from ownership/servers. Good luck getting a job at Jack Astors when you are unemployed next week.
Samantha / July 22, 2014 at 01:26 pm
Check out Yours Truly if you want a great dining experience (just a happy customer, not a friend or employee). Amazing food and wonderful service.

2 hour limit at the table? It's supposed to be fine dining, nice way to treat your guests like cattle. If they are just lingering, I suppose you could ask (which some might still think is rude) but if they are still purchasing dessert/coffee/cocktails then leave them be! Christ.

Samantha / July 22, 2014 at 01:38 pm
Credit Card required to reserve.

$25 charge for no shows.

15 minute hold on a table before it's given to a walk in (unless the patron calls to inform them they'll be late).

Make the policies clear when they reserve.

What are follow-up calls supposed to accomplish, besides driving customers (and their friends, people talk) away? From a business perspective I just don't get it.

Shawn you know full well you aren't calling to check to see if their was a service problem. At Frank's the customer is always wrong, a shame consider Frank's talent.

curious replying to a comment from Samantha / July 22, 2014 at 02:24 pm
Just curious, how is one to honour anothers reservation when someone is occupying that table beyond the expected time even if they are ordering more drinks?
Random Reader replying to a comment from curious / July 22, 2014 at 02:33 pm
well if they are actually having 40-50% of their reservations cancel, they shouldn't have issues with forcing people out of tables to accommodate others.
but thats all the more reason I don't believe half of what has been said.

PS: I've eaten in restaurants all across this city without reservations, and have never needed to go to a Jack Astors. If anyone associated with this business actually thinks the only options are Franks Kitchen or slumming down to Jack Astors, well, they have about as much credibility as anyone trying to defend the need to call someone who didn't tip an expected amount.
Yvonne T. / July 22, 2014 at 04:03 pm
Ah... the restauranteurs vs. consumer debate on reservations continues.

I want to first and foremost thank the no-show @$$holes who have ruined it all for the rest of us. As much as we b!tch about how an increasing number of Toronto restaurants don't take reservations - the no-shows (which affect their bottom line) is the reason why. So in the end, we reap what we sow.

Think on the flip side, if you made a reservation and the restaurant gave your table away without calling or telling you - wouldn't you be peeved?

The concept of "zero repercussions" is the real culprit here.

Restaurants who state that they will only hold a table for 15 minutes past the time of reservation are taking a step in the right direction but perhaps a more drastic measure such as take a deposit at the time of booking will eliminate (if at a minimum, decrease) the frequency of no-shows because now there's a cost of not showing up.

However, this solution would only work if ALL the restaurants in Toronto or at least a good majority of them enforced the rule. Otherwise, it is a fruitless endeavour.

Moral of the story people - please be considerate. When you make a reservation and can't show up, take all of 30 seconds to let the restaurant know. Don't leave them in the lurch.

Andrea / July 22, 2014 at 04:52 pm
I am blown away by the negative comments on here about Frank's Kitchen and especially Shawn! Shawn is a professional in every sense of the word who takes pride in her job and in every aspect of that restaurant. Everyone knows that the restaurant business is one of the most difficult businesses, the hours, the pay, the thankless aspect and of course, the success to failure ratio. Frank's Kitchen is one of the best in this city, not just because of the delicious food but because of the SERVICE! I know for a fact that celebrities have been turned away (A Listers) because they didn't have a reservation and that a table was reserved for one of us pleebs. She treats everyone with kindness and respect so if you've encountered an issue with the service at Frank's, maybe the problem isn't with them, it's with you.
Danielle / July 22, 2014 at 07:24 pm
Three things strike me about this whole thing:

1. Lack of common courtesy when it comes to calling and canceling your reservation. It takes 30 seconds and allows them to fill that table that would otherwise be wasted by your absence. It's not rocket science its manners 101.

2. The shaming over tips and the berating on the phone to those who do have the courtesy to call has got to stop. That is ridiculous. A 24 hour notice requirement is ridiculous - life happens. People already feel bad enough about having to cancel, the last thing you wanna hear is the owner calling you out when you do call. I'm sure this is why some people don't call to begin with.

3. Why they don't accept walk-ins is beyond me. Hold the table for 15 mins, and then open it up to others. This can be clearly stated at the time of booking. Toronto Life used to have a piece about which restaurants still had openings on certain nights of the week, I'm not sure if they still do it, but this could be advertised on twitter or a live feed on the website, or a sidewalk sign. Why doesn't BLogTO tap into this (instead of calling out small restaurants) where a restaurant who has a sudden cancellation can advertise it online within seconds. There are always people looking last minute for a good place to eat.
jen foote / July 22, 2014 at 07:39 pm
Frank's Kitchen is one of the few places in Toronto where service and standards top the charts! Unfortunately, sometimes when competition is fierce people choose to find flaws within perfection and go as far as to sabotage others successes. if a handful of people have claimed to have had an unpleasant experience compared to the thousands of happy costumers you have served, I'd say that's a pretty good day at the circus! Keep doing what you are doing! We are so fortunate to have a place like yours in the city! Cant wait to make my next reservation at one of Toronto's best restaurants! Onward and upward!
dahl replying to a comment from mel / July 22, 2014 at 08:54 pm
Mel, although tipping may not be part of some people's cultural background, please remember that we live in a city where tipping is part of the norm. When I travel to other countries, I read up on their social traditions so as not to offend their people. I too have worked in the service industry many years ago, and if a customer didn't tip oneof the staff, it would have been good to know why so as to catch any potential problems in the future.

I appreciate their proactove approach to client service.
roger replying to a comment from Danielle / July 22, 2014 at 09:36 pm
These restaurants hold tables for weeks which is their commitment to us yet asking for one days notice seems out of line? I cancelled late once at FK, no choice. The lady on the phone said (host I think) said..."thank you so much for the call, if ever you need to cancel again if POSSIBLE please allow us as much notice as you can as it makes a big difference to us to be able to rebook." When I said, I just found out, I was told of course, no problem things happen last minute, we totally understand. Fair. The finer points are being lost here. They are saying thank you for the call, and if POSSIBLE to give more notice next time, we would really appreciate it. It was not a scolding but information that I may not have realized. What other recourse do they have. They have to assume that people don't get it and apparently they don't. Also read the response, I am sure they would love to take walk-ins, they just don't get them. They are often booked up way in advance and everyone knows it's a hard reso to get, and so don't bother to walk in. That's the downfall of popular reservation restaurants. And by the way, anyone wonder why it's hard to get in, I'm sure it's because of the shitty way they treat their customers. Also I'm sure all the amazing critic reviews (not sites, actual reviewers) by newspapers and magazines were written by Shawn as well...
dahl / July 22, 2014 at 09:49 pm
To the amazing staff and owners at Frank's Kitchen-thank you for treating us with the utmost respect and impeccable service for the few times we have had the privilege of eating at your restaurant. It's not every day that you encounter such a dedicated and professional team of service staff. Not to mention the food- it's art in your mouth! We can't wait for the opportunity to come back and be pampered again.

I was in the service industry for many years in the past as well, so I am very familiar with the ups and downs of it all. It comes down to courtesy: a no-show is inconsiderate and hurts the bottom line of the restauranteur and the service staff. These are professionals who depend on this money to pay their bills. They work hard and deserve gratitude-in this case, in the form of a good tip and a kept reservation.

Would you not show up to a doctor's appt, or hair appt, or a meeting with a lawyer if something came up without letting them know? No. So why does the restaurant industry have to put up with that kind of insulting, ignorant behaviour?

And how can someone even BEGIN to compare Jack Astors to a restaurant such as Frank's?! They are night and day! One is a tasteless, run of the mill food chain, while the other is a neighbourhood "mom and pop shop" that aims to provide its clientele with incredibly delicious and unique fare that will exceed expectations. And you do- each and every time!

Frank's Kitchen- you are widely recognized as a high-acclaimed restaurant with fabulous service staff and excellent food. Keep doing what you're doing- we'll definitely be back for a visit soon!
Stop Misquoting replying to a comment from Random Reader / July 22, 2014 at 10:10 pm
Jesus, read more carefully. It was said that out of the 40 to 50% that cancel that a portion cancel within or before the requested time frame. So they are not sitting with half restaurant open! The point being that with proper notice they have a chance to use their wait list, and with last minute cancellations or no shows, I'm sure a few tables remain unused, and in a small restaurant,it's a huge loss when they could have easily booked someone else with a bit of notice. Somehow everyone thinks that there is a line up of people outside waiting to get in, the only places like that are places that don't take reservations, at least this place is still courteous enough to provide reservations.
Les Goldblatt / July 22, 2014 at 10:48 pm
It sounds to me like that have taken a stand on an issue that needs to be addressed. Many restaurants in Toronto no longer take reservations because they lose too much revenue due to no-shows. Missing a reservation is something that happens to everyone but simply not calling to say that you won't make it is a pretty passive aggressive thing to do. It's a slap in the face and it conveys that the person doesn't hold much respect for the restaurant or the people that work there. It's also rude to others that want to get a table.
I've been to Shawn and Frank's place a number of times and it's quite obvious that they care deeply about their customers experience there.
anthony / July 23, 2014 at 01:29 am
The meal I enjoyed at franks was brilliant.

There was an air of understated eloquence that was fun and yet dead serious the night I dined. Thank you for making my palette a little more cultured and my soul just a little bit more playful.
How dare you dies Franks Kitchen.

Elve / July 23, 2014 at 08:57 am
I made a reservation two weeks ago at Frank's Kitchen which is my very favourite restaurant in all of Toronto. Today to my dismay I happened upon TO blog, and I cannot believe this negativity, especially towards one of the owners Shawn, who is so gracious and always goes out of her way to make your night a very special occasion. I can't imagine not having the common consideration not to call and cancel if you have no intention of keeping your commitment! Because I know from my own experience and after many many visits to this treasure of a restaurant that these comments are absolutely nonsense! I called today to change my reservation to SIX instead of two and I invited my friends to enjoy this culinary delight and lovely experience which we have always had.
Kerrie Hughes / July 23, 2014 at 11:04 am
Are you kidding me, News Flash, they have an FB page and I for one frequent FK often,,,,so maybe many saw the the post just as I did,,,remember social media,,,when we like a restaurant, we like their page. of the Top Ten Restaurants in Tdot for how many years running??? I give respect and props when due. Everytime I have guests visiting from anywhere in the world,,,,this is where I take them. Every time, they leave with incredible satisfaction. Impeccable service, a foodies dream,,,the passion and heart that comes from Chef Frank (duh,,,right, we shouldn't know his first name with it being Frank's Kitchen) and his wife Shawn (a well known fact if you've read any of the rave reviews), as well as all the servers, if any restaurant deserves the respect of appropriate tipping and the courtesy of cancelling reservations in a timely fashion,,,its this one. So please, stop shooting the amazing hands that feed you well. They really don't deserve this. WORD.
So Sad / July 23, 2014 at 12:11 pm
Really how sad. I'm sure as one of their friends you have been treated well no doubt, but what has become an issue is the manager who loses her temper on certain guests, phones back to leave harassing voicemails & regularly insults her customers (which she so professionally refers to as "guys")as outlined in countless experiences from other diners above. Many customers unlike you have never had the chance to become a "regular" because after her abhorrent treatment of them they leave FK fighting off tears, humiliated and embarassed. No doubt they have some happy regulars, but to run a successful restaurant you should be consistent and professional at all times, not when you feel like it. The way she treats certain diners shows she has no service skills whatsoever. WORD, GUY.
Random Reader replying to a comment from Stop Misquoting / July 23, 2014 at 02:19 pm
who's misquoting? I see this: "All told, 40-50% of people who call to book a table don't materialize."
which I then wrote: "well if they are actually having 40-50% of their reservations cancel, they shouldn't have issues with forcing people out of tables to accommodate others."

Now if we want to make this about the fact they simply don't get walk-ins, thats another argument in how it impacts the business. But not the issue I was responding to.
CZ / July 23, 2014 at 04:14 pm
Whenever reform is needed, it requires individuals to speak out and stand up for what is right, Otherwise change will never happen. Kudos to Shawn Cooper for being brave enough to say something that needed to be said and for trying to effect change. She's taking a lot of heat for this as is always the case when people are first to speak out. Some of the comments are downright abusive which is really hard to understand. Small family owned restaurants like Frank's Kitchen are obviously being harmed by this practice, and they have every right to try to explain and educate.

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