'Come on people': Sydney restaurant fumes over dodgy Covid behaviour

The owner of a popular Italian restaurant in Sydney’s east has called out a “frustrating” problem the hospitality industry is still facing after lockdowns.

Michael Bradley, who co-owns and manages Melo's Italian Restaurant in Potts Point, took to Facebook on Friday night after three tables failed to show up. His restaurant holds 45 people and the cancellations were a total of eight.

“Come on people — do you 'forget' to turn up for a flight, a nail appointment, a pooch pampering day?” he wrote.

“Angry now is not the word - we've knocked back bookings and people can't be a**** to ring and cancel.”

Mello's Italian restaurant at Potts Point is pictured.
Mello's Italian restaurant at Potts Point like many hospitality venues has worked hard to stay afloat throughout the pandemic. Source: Facebook

The restaurant has a policy where it has a 15-minute grace period. Once that has passed, they check by phone if someone’s made a booking to see if they’re still showing.

Mr Bradley opened the restaurant in October 2019 – six months before Covid-19 caused chaos for the hospitality industry. He told Yahoo News Australia he was “really angry” when he wrote the post.

Hospitality industry fighting to recover

In many ways the hospitality industry is still healing from coronavirus. There were staff shortages over Christmas due to many people being forced to self-isolate as either close contacts or having caught the virus themselves.

Many venues didn’t survive to even see it that far. Lentil As Anything in Newtown, once considered a Sydney “institution”, closed its doors earlier this year.

As Mr Bradley put it: “Hospitality is fighting to get back”.

Mr Bradley said between the two lockdowns, the period at the end of 2020 and early to mid stages of 2021, some people booked and didn’t show up.

“Of the three tables, two of them didn’t answer and the third sheepishly said, ‘oh, I forgot’,” he said.

He isn’t alone in his frustrations either. The owner of Surry Hills bar Low 302 shared his dismay in May 2020 when a party of four didn’t show to his venue. The bar at the time was operating at 40 per cent capacity.

Mr Bradley said some people are back to treating hospitality as it was before Covid which isn’t exactly the case. He also pointed out that between lockdowns Potts Point, where Melo’s is located, also was home to a coronavirus cluster which may have kept patrons away.

“Every table is a commodity,” he said.

“We acknowledge there are genuine circumstances but we just ask for people to be a bit more mindful and call or email use so we can re-sell the table.

“Some people have suggested taking cash deposits for tables but it’s too much manpower and we don’t see the point given what we charge overall for meals.”

Most people do the right thing, Mr Bradley said and he acknowledged the Potts Point community has gotten Melo’s through two lockdowns.

On Facebook, a number of Potts Point locals called the three no-shows “terrible” and “unacceptable”.

“Not cool at any time but especially now when the hospitality industry is trying to recover from the last two years,” one woman wrote.

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