Why restaurant reservations may require a deposit, specific rules for large parties

Graduation season is quickly approaching, and many people will be trying to book large party reservations at local restaurants that may require a deposit.

"We see about 60 to 70 percent of them fail within the first three years. It is a tough business," said Ben Fileccia, Director of Operations and Strategy Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association.

Fileccia knows all about the ins and outs of the restaurant industry, previously owning several spots around the city. 

"You know we talk about butts in seats and we need that all the time," said Fileccia.

Which is part of the reason restaurants are laying down strict guidelines to ensure the large party reservations make it to their seats.

At Amina Restaurant in Old City, large parties must call the restaurant to book and they don’t allow parties of more than ten from Friday to Sunday. 

"When they don’t show up, you are forced with people who may have already tried to book, turning away walk-ins that could have possibly sat at the table so, you are at a loss because you are losing revenue each way," says Felicia Wilson, the owner of Amina Restaurant.

A tough scenario that William Mulson at Cuba Libre in Old City has had to deal with in regard to large groups. 

"What restaurants are really doing now is they are asking for more communication with the guests. The restaurant is having that party and taking some risks on holding that reservation. They’re asking guests to give a little bit more of a commitment, to make sure they will arrive to their party and on time," said Mulson.


A commitment that Taylor Carmichael, an employee at FOX 29 had to deal with recently when trying to book a reservation for a party of eight at a restaurant in New Jersey. 

"Basically, they told me, for a group of eight people, I needed to have $1,000 deposit and I needed to sign a contract. Of course, when I first heard that I wasn’t doing that, especially for eight people," said Carmichael.

"You know parties of six, seven, eight you may see deposits per person, anywhere from $25 to $100 deposit per person. Sometimes you’ll see folks just want to hold a credit card. So, it’s just a precaution for these folks," said Fileccia.

Which restaurant officials have some advice for parties that may help them get in and eating, a little bit smoother. 

"If possible, go on an off night, 8 o’clock on Saturday night, everyone wants to dine that night, if you’re a large party maybe you go the restaurant at 5 o’clock or go a little bit later," says Mulson.

"Call and be courteous, that if things change in terms of like decreasing numbers, call and let the restaurants know so, we can plan accordingly," says Wilson. 

As for those booking the reservation, Carmichael has some advice. 

She says, "Make sure you have more options and just make sure you don’t get discouraged."