This serial dine-and-dasher was always careful to order under $100 worth of food at the dozens of Baltimore restaurants he stole from, because it carries a sentence of only a few weeks in jail. The man, who was possibly homeless, kept it up for years until finally the judge threw the book at him in June: five years in prison.
One of the most infamous dine-and-dash stories in recent memory involved a Reno man named Saul Zelaznog, who ate without paying at several Reno bars and restaurants. It all came to a head when he hit the microbrewery Brewers Cabinet, and another restaurant owner sent them a photo of Zelaznog, which they promptly posted to Facebook. After a fair amount of shaming, he was arrested in August 2013; the microbrewery brewed a “Dasher Dunkel” in his honor.
In January 2013, an Italian tourist named Graziano Graziussi staged an attempted dine-and-dash at New York’s renowned Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse, but didn’t make it very far. He told several news outlets that he told the restaurant’s manager that he left his wallet at his hotel and attempted to leave his iPhone as collateral, but the restaurant refused and called the police on him, who hauled him off to jail. The restaurant refused to comment on the case due to privacy concerns, but did admit that they had “significant cause” to call the police. The NYPD later confirmed that Graziussi simply didn’t want to pay and lied to the press, and he later appeared in court to settle the $219 tab.
Earlier this month, Britney Spears hit up a Thousand Oaks, Calif. Cheesecake Factory and apparently completely forgot to pay the bill. She apparently felt bad about the mistake, and returned a couple days later to pay up — along with a $100 tip for the waitress.
Chef Brandon Sharp recounted a great story to us about a legendary dine-and-dash at none other than Lyon, France’s La Pyramide, while renowned chef Fernand Point was still in the kitchen: “He had two guys finish up a long lunch with lots of wine and argue over which of them would pick up the check. He had to come out to the table and break up their bickering. Finally one of them says, ‘OK, let's have a race for it. We'll run from the front gate of the restaurant, around the old Roman monument down the street, and back here. First one through the gate wins and buys the lunch." So the guys line up. Point says, "On your mark, set, go,’ and off the guys run, down the street, past the monument, and they just keep right on running. Free lunch.”
The celebrity power couple is apparently not used to paying for much: In November 2012, they reportedly ducked into a London Häagen-Dazs, got some ice cream, and left without paying. An employee took to Twitter to complain, but it doesn’t look like they ever returned to settle the tab, or had any intention of doing so.
Here’s a wild tale posted to Break Room Stories by a waiter named Greg: “A couple came in on a first date. The guy was in a suit, the lady a sexy little black dress with no purse. They go ahead and order martinis, bottles of wine, lobsters, all kinds of expensive s**t and then the guy says he has the run to the washroom. He never came back. His poor date didn’t bring a purse with her because he wanted to wine and dine her so she wasn’t able to pay. I told her not to worry about it, she’d been through enough and that we’d just write the bill off. The woman came back the next day, paid the bill and gave me a 20% tip… and her number.”
In March, a Tennessee couple, Felishia Bridges and Daniel Humphrey, decided to skip out on their $28 Applebee’s tab. A 19-year-old waitress noticed that they left without paying before they could make their escape, however, so she and a handful of other customers raced out into the parking lot to stop them. Bridges aimed the car at the waitress and hit her before speeding off. The waitress sustained minor injuries and was released from the hospital that night; Bridges was charges with aggravated assault and theft of services, and was booked on a $30,000 bond.
Here’s an unnecessarily elaborate ruse perpetrated by a customer of a bartender who posted the story to Reddit:
“Had a guy come into my bar with a gift bag and sits [sic] at the bar. It's Saturday night and we are busy. I give him the usual chatter, and he explains it is his girlfriend's birthday, and he's waiting to meet up with her after she finishes dinner with her mother.
He orders a few small plates and an entree, and has (I think) three beers or so. After sitting there for 90 or so minutes, he gets up and explains she's calling and he needs to take the call outside, but to hold his seat. Now, this guy looked pretty clean cut, early forties, and left a half beer and half eaten entree at the bar. Nothing was unusual, as it did get pretty loud in there.
Bar space was a premium, and people kept asking if they could grab his chair, but I politely explained he was taking a phone call. After 30 minutes he was MIA, so I finally pull his food and beer and dump it. If he came back I would just refire it, but at this point everything was cold, flat, and, well, gross. After another 20 minutes I pull the gift bag and keep it behind the bar and give up the chair.
An hour later (about two hours since he walked out) I'm like, ‘what the hell?’ and check the gift bag. I open it and inside is a cardboard box. I open it and it contains only tissue paper. I got scammed.
Frankly...while I was pissed and got duped, I was still kind of like, ‘Bravo, grifter....bravo.’”
This is pretty insane: In 1941, a 10-year-old Salt Lake City boy dined and dashed with a friend at a restaurant called Lamb’s Grill, skipping out on a $1 bill. More than 70 years later, a woman walked into the same restaurant and told a waitress that it was her father who ate and ran all those years ago, and that he had been racked with guilt ever since, even though he was now in his 80s. So while he waited in the car (too embarrassed to show his face), his daughter handed the waitress $5 to finally settle the score, plus interest. “I’d like to tell him to please come back and eat at Lamb’s Grill, the owner, Francis Liong, told the press. “But please don’t dash out.”