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An Italian tourist was taught a harsh lesson about paying his restaurant bill when he dined at a pricy New York steakhouse and realized when the check came that he forgot his wallet at the hotel. Rather than letting the man leave his phone for collateral while he ran back to the hotel to get his wallet, the restaurant called the police and he was arrested, after which he spent the night in jail.
HonestCooking.com spoke to Graziano Graziussi about the ordeal he was subjected to after dining at New York's Smith & Wollensky, where a piece of cooked beef can cost upwards of $50. Graziussi was on his second night of a two week vacation in New York and dining at the steakhouse with a friend when he received the bill, which was about $200, and realized he forgot his wallet. He says he offered to leave his iPhone with the restaurant so he could go back to his hotel and get the money to pay the bill. Instead, the maitre d called the police and he was arrested. After spending the night in jail, a judge dismissed the case the following morning under the condition that Graziussi come back to court to pay.
“- I would have expected an upscale place like Smith & Wollensky to behave a bit more courteous to their customers. This really could happen to anybody, and it was an honest mistake, but they didn’t care,” says Mr Graziussi.
Upscale or not, you'd think any restaurant would be willing to work something out rather than getting the police involved. If the customer is cooperating, it seems like an extreme move to involve the police. I guess I look at this situation and think - as Graziussi said - it could happen to anyone, and also how scary it would be to have this happen during a trip overseas, which is the case for this man, who described jail as "horrible."
Sure, people do "dine-and-dash" (eat at a restaurant and skip out on the bill), but it's my assumption that this act of restaurant-food/service-thievery typically involves dashing at the end, either before or after the check comes. Not trying to explain to the server or maitre d that they forgot their wallet and could they please just leave for a few minutes to go get it. Then again, maybe Smith & Wollensky has had different experiences in this area and they reacted based on that. Regardless, it's bad public relations for the restaurant, but a lesson to be learned for tourists and other restaurant patrons. Don't forget your wallet.
Photo Credit: 10Best.com.