The reservation issue has been done on these boards, and I think we can all agree ChowHounders have better restaurant etiquette than the general public (and love quibbling about it... and love denigrating the general public! I am right with everybody on that).
I think this explanation of how no-shows really hurt a restaurant and the servers is the least antagonistic I have seen. When I first started dining out - I should add I was a server at the same time in a very high end steakhouse where a no-show could change my earnings for the night from (?) to zero - I was very against charges for no-shows. Even though there were nights I would make precisely nothing and the house would lose, sometimes life gets in the way.
But that was ten years ago,when people were coming to my restaurant for milestones. In the environment we have now, my place would be an 'Huh, it's Tuesday. It'll do' restaurant for the increasing number of people who see $25+ for an adequate entree as just....how much food costs. And I would see SO many cancellations. Nick Kokonas explains it well I think. As prices inflate, and restaurants operate on SUCH a low profit margin... I would absolutely buy a 'ticket' for a table. I would boast like my friends boast about playoff tickets, and if I couldn't go I would LOVE to pass on to a friend.
So - would you buy a non-refundable 'table ticket'?