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Jun 20, 2011 12:17 PM

Etiquette: Restaurant Cancels Reservation


This is my first post on this website, so hopefully I am doing this correctly and it is in the right spot.

A few evenings ago my wife and I had reservations for our anniversary for Bonsoiree. We had dined there once before (several months ago for my birthday) and had a great overall experience and really loved the food and experience.

On this occasion the restaurant called a few hours beforehand to confirm our reservation (I had reserved online) and I answered the phone and confirmed we were coming. While driving to the restaurant I felt my cell phone vibrate, but do not pick up my phone while driving for safety reasons. By the time we arrived (about 40 minutes later) I had forgotten that my phone had rang and we parked and walked up to the restaurant. As we approached we saw workers exiting the premises carrying out trays of food. A worker approached us and stated that they had suffered a power outage (there had been thunderstorms that day) and explained that they had to close the restaurant for the evening. He indicated that he had called everybody (when I checked my voice mails, sure enough he had been the missed call I received while driving to the restaurant). He also stated that he would be calling people soon to try to reschedule them (Bonsoiree is not an easy restaurant to dine in unless you books a few weeks in advance).

It is now five days later and I never heard back from anybody at Bonsoiree to try to reschedule me. There is no availability that works with our schedule until August when I view the online reservation system, and by then the menu will be different (we really love the current menu - it changes each season). While I certainly was not expecting much (if anything) compensation wise since the power outage was not their fault, I was a bit surprised they did not extend the courtesy of a phone call to apologize and try to fit us in for a new reservation. Fortunately our evening was saved by HB (Home Bistro). They are one of our favorite restaurants and we quickly called them and explained what happened, and they squeezed us in even though they were fully booked; we had a great meal at HB, though very different than the type of meal we were expecting and anticipating at Bonsoiree.

As this is the first time a restaurant has cancelled a reservation on me on such short notice, I am curious as to what the normal etiquette is, especially for a fairly high end place like Bonsoiree where it is not easy to obtain reservations without advance planning? Am I right to feel a bit upset they did not reach out to me afterwards, or is this customary and should I forget about it?

Thanks for any feedback. :)

2728 W Armitage, Chicago, IL 60647

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  1. I don't know whether there IS any kind of customary etiquette, because it's an unusual situation and they're probably not accustomed to dealing with it. (If a restaurant has to cancel reservations frequently, it indicates another kind of problem - but there's only one place I'm aware of doing that, and it's not Bonsoiree.) Perhaps it's a simple miscommunication on their part, and someone just forgot to call everyone back, maybe thinking that it's up to the diners to get back in touch with the restaurant and forgetting that everyone was told otherwise. It sounds like you haven't tried calling Bonsoiree, and have just been waiting around with the expectation that they would call you, as they indicated. Rather than wait any longer, I would suggest calling them now, explaining that you were cancelled and would like to reschedule for some time soon, and then see what they can do for you. I would try not to get upset with them (at least not yet); unexpected problems happen to all of us, in all walks of life, and sometimes the aftermath isn't handled smoothly.

    2 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Exactly, give them a call, explain what happened, and see if they can work you in earlier than online.

      Welcome to posting on Chowhound. Don't be surprised or alarmed if your thread gets moved to the "Not About Food" board.

      1. re: nsxtasy


        I'll also note that Bonsoiree's reservations team is EXTREMELY helpful both via phone and e-mail - they truly are great people even if the restaurant/experience didn't "blow me away."

        Also - ::cough:: schwa ::cough:: - :-)

        2728 W Armitage, Chicago, IL 60647

      2. I would send an email. Phone calling is too dodgy.

        1 Reply
        1. re: dulcie54

          Really? I know that some restaurants respond promptly and efficiently to e-mail, but many others don't.

          I would phone them. It's possible that the person who answers is only a reservation taker; if you don't get satisfaction from your interaction with him/her, I would leave my number and ask for a manager to give you a call.

        2. I agree that you should give them a call. The power outage probably created all sorts of problems for them and calling you back just fell through the cracks. If you see it from their perspective, I am sure you can appreciate that the outage created more havoc in their evening than it probably did in yours -- glad that you were able to get in somewhere else on such short notice.

          1. Thanks everybody for the advice. I will not hold it against them; I can see how they likely were thrown off by this unexpected event and may have overlooked making phone calls to those that had reservations that night. I also just received a Facebook status update from Bonsoiree announcing the chef/owner got married over the weekend, so they certainly have had a lot going on this week between the power outage and the chef's wedding! The summer menu is due out early July and since my wife is away on a business trip until near the end of this month, I guess I will just wait and see how appealing the summer menu is (I eat just about anything, but my wife is much pickier and really liked the spring menu).

            2728 W Armitage, Chicago, IL 60647