In the last month, there have been several reports of a well-dressed man in his mid-20s making ‘quiet’ exits from some of Calgary’s top eateries like Blink and Teatro. In the latest of those incidences, Muse Restaurant staff served the young man, who sipped on pricey cocktails and wine while he enjoyed a three-course meal. It was only when the man left his wallet at the table and vanished from the table for some time that staff noticed something was amiss. Upon closer inspection, they realized the patron’s wallet contained nothing more than magazine clippings lining each pocket. The man in the three-piece suit had pulled a ‘dine and dash’ and stuck the restaurant with his tab.
The despicable practice of dining and dashing is nothing new; it is something poor students, soccer moms, and even celebrities have been guilty of committing from time to time. Don’t think this sort of shady behaviour is resigned to late-night diners and two-star waffle houses. In recent news, even Lindsay Lohan’s mother has been accused of walking out on a $2,500 bill at a charity event. In light of the latest incidences with Calgary’s Houdini of fine dining, we thought we’d weigh in on the topic of dining and dashing and why it’s a dirtbag move.
As already mentioned, the practice of dining and dashing seems to encompass a wide variety of people from all walks of life and with different motivations. For some it’s a way to save a dollar. For others, skipping on the tab seems to be an adrenaline rush. While there are certainly a few dine and dash stories that show great resourcefulness and creativity, most stories are downright idiotic and often show the perpetrators’ complete lack of foresight. Take, for instance, the story of Andrew Palmer, a serial dine and dasher of Baltimore, who faked seizures on the regular when his bill came to the table. Unfortuntely for Mr. Palmer, his last episode at Viccino Jay’s Italian Gourmet in October ended less than ideally. When the paramedic team showed up to Viccino Jay’s, they were quick to point out to service staff that Palmer’s episode was nothing more than theatrics they’d witnessed several times before. Can you imagine anything more embarrassing than your paramedic’s response to your fake seizure being, ‘Come on Andy, stop faking’?
The moral of the story here is that dining and dashing will catch up with you in one way or another, particularly in a city like Calgary. The restaurant community here is tightly knit and word tends to travel fast… especially when you factor in social media. After the incident at Muse, a surveillance camera photo of the offender was quickly shared on Twitter, where the post went viral. That’s right, pal, restaurant owners all over Calgary now know what you look like.
Beyond owners, diners and dashers should also keep in mind the service staff don’t often forget the face of someone who has walked out on their bill. This means you might have to wait out another visit to that same restaurant for several years, if ever venturing back at all. What if you really liked the food, not to mention if you ever wanted to take a date there? Probably not a good idea.
Finally, take into account that servers often work for tips to augment their below-minimum wage salaries. If customers skip on the bill, the server is not only shorted on their personal income, they may also be required to still tip out to the support and kitchen staff on a bill that was never paid. That hardly seems fair. So to the shyster who is still at large in Calgary: we recommend you sell that three-piece suit and pay back the restaurants you stiffed.
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