Friday, February 25, 2005 | Two of the biggest restaurant holidays in the calendar year are once again over. Yup, you guessed it, Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve. And because Valentine’s Day fell on a Monday, restaurants took advantage of the weekend carryover. It was a great opportunity to make more money.

But before you chastise the restaurants too much, think a bit about what they do for you. First, they create special menus, and they price the menus to make it possible for most of us to take advantage of restaurants we normally don’t go to. Second, they turn the properties into romantic getaways. And third, they do everything possible to make the experience one you won’t forget. All this, however, comes at a price. Reservations are required. So what, you say. Well, it’s a big “what” because many of us don’t honor our reservations. We cancel an hour before our allotted time or we become, in the jargon of the buzz, a “no show.” So what, you say again. On big holidays like this, restaurants don’t take walk-ins. So when you don’t show up, the table stays empty for the entire evening. For a business owner, that’s lost revenue.

Up to now, our restaurant community has shown great faith in its customers. But times are changing. Next year, for Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve you may have to sign the equivalent of a promissory note stating your intention to be there and pay – no excuses. And that puts us right up there with mercenary New York and San Francisco. So honor those reservations, and let’s make San Diego a culinary destination with a softer and gentler side.

Pamela J. Wischkaemper is a local food consultant and is the founder of San Diego Gastronomically Correct, a group that goes on the road twice a year to promote the San Diego restaurant industry. The only criteria for membership is having cooked at the James Beard House in New York. Nineteen chefs in San Diego are members.

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