A booking fee?
The policy was adopted for many reasons but was spurred on by the number of cancellations we were experiencing which would have put the business at risk if we had not altered our business plan. Due to of Covid-19, we are operating at about 25% capacity. We have taken a very active role in spacing tables at a greater distance than recommended with many tables being spaced at 18 feet. When we were not requiring a deposit and allowing people to book without a fee, we were experiencing a 40% no-show/cancellation rate which was not sustainable as we simply would not continue to operate with an attendance of 60% when operating at 25%. Like all businesses, when something is not working, you either change your business plans or go out of business.
We considered many options but decided that we would keep the fee very low and reward those who honored their reservation with something of equal value. Accordingly, we adopted a non-refundable booking fee starting at $12 for a table. We have 6 tables (80 tables total) with a higher non-refundable fee as they are shaded and located on our outside patio location. You decision to book a more expensive table is discretionary and the entire fee for higher priced tables is still non-refundable.
When you arrive for your reservation, you will provided with 2 wine glasses (Value $6.00 each) as a gift from us to you for attending. You can purchase additional glasses when making a reservation or you can purchase additional glasses when placing your food or wine order. We also provide plastic glasses for free and you can also BYO glass. Since the institution of this approach, we continue to be fully booked and our cancellation rate is now under 2% and our no show rate has been under 6%.
If you consider this policy to be unreasonable, I hope that you will consider the value of our venue in its entirety as I believe we present an incredible value.
First and foremost I believe we are operating very safe and pro-active environments with incredible social distancing. We are spending about 30% more in staffing to manage the booking process, check-ins, temperature checks, bathrooms, and sanitation practices. Our tables are generally separated by a distance that is 25% (8’) to 300% (18’) greater than the 6 feet recommended by the state which we do not feel is adequate. Safety does come with a price.
Unlike conventional restaurants that charge between 2 and 3 times the cost of a bottle of wine to cover overhead, service, and liquor liability insurance for onsite consumption ( Most wine lists start at $36 per bottle), we allow customers dining at our picnic grounds the benefit of purchasing wine at retail pricing with many of our wines priced from $15 to $22. A single bottle of wine presents a savings of $20 plus to the customer and I would suggest that a table of six people, each consuming 2 glasses of wine, would save about $40 for beverage service over a conventional restaurant.
There is the view and the value of dining at a farm where farm to table was invented in 1998. Some restaurants boast of being a farm to table restaurant because they buy from a farm. We are the original farm to table located on the farm. All food and wine that is made from scratch right on sites which is something unique and different. Our approach might seem unusual but we feel that we are a very unusual venue.
Finally, like all venues that are restaurants or based on tourism, we are simply trying to survive in a very difficult environment. As many as 85% of independent restaurants may permanently close because of the pandemic by the end of 2020, according to a report commissioned by the Independent Restaurant Coalition. Independent restaurants, which comprise 70% of all restaurants, rely more heavily on dine-in revenue than chains and don’t have a corporate safety net or support system to fall back on. When you have to operate at 25 to 40% capacity for safety reasons, when you do not show up for a reservation or cancel at the last minute the financial impact is devastating. Support your local independently owned restaurants, farms and wineries.
Thank you for taking the time to read my view of value and please provide me with your thoughts and information about the refund that you have requested. To book a reservation.