Raleigh Restaurant Requires Credit Card For Reservation, Then Charges $20 Per Person Who Doesn't Show

It’s common for restaurants to not seat a party until everyone has arrived, but here’s something we’ve never seen before: requiring a credit card to make the reservation, then charging $20 per person who doesn’t show up—but still refusing to seat an incomplete party. When Matthew tried to get his party of ten seated without two of the people—basically saying he’d pay the $40 to get out of the bar and at a table—management refused. We think this restaurant doesn’t like its patrons very much.

This Saturday night a friend of mine was turning 30 and one of our group of friends made reservations for 12 at a new Sushi restaurant in Raleigh called Sono.
I had not been there before – but in the email that let everyone one know where and when to meet we were told that everyone had to be there before they could seat us all. I understand this policy (sort of). When we arrived there was one couple missing and thus there were ten of us at the small bar waiting. We received a call from the missing couple saying that they were having trouble parking but they were on their way.
While we were waiting I talked to my friend who had made there reservations and said we should be asked to be seated since we are taking up room at this small bar (which was and also badly managed since only about 4 of us got served a drink) and blocking the way for people who were being seated since the bar was between the door and the dinning area. My friend said that when she made the reservations she was asked to give her credit card number and that she would be charged $20 for every person who did not show up. This seemed like a contradiction.
So I went up to the front of house and asked that we be seated – I explained that 10 out of the 12 were there and that the other couple where on their way. The bored response I received was “this is not our policy” – you must have the total number of people to be present before we could be seated.I pointed out that we were talking up valuable bar real estate and blocking the way for the rest of the customers and it would make more sense to have up seated out the empty table that was set up for us. Again the same bored response. I then suggested that they follow their other policy which was to charge my credit card $40 if the couple did not show up, I was willing to risk it. They said they could not do that either. I asked them if that made sense – I was hoping they would answer that it was not their policy. But instead I was told that again I would have to wait for all members of our party to show up etc etc… There is really nothing to say after that and so I went back to our party, the couple arrived and eventually we were seated.
My wife wrote on their feedback ticket this issue – but I just found the issue funny and annoying – especially in this economy and especially if you are a restaurant – when you are new you are busy but 4 months down the road it will only be repeat business that keeps these places open and I will not visit there again.