Forget the classic cover story of a dog eating your homework. Today, a decent dodge of responsibility would have to involve at least a pack of wolves. As recent restaurant developments attest, fibbers and outright con artists are showing far more audacity today in trying to pull off their ruses.
Here are some of the whoppers from recent days.
Dine and dash on el grande scale
Rare is the full-service restaurant that hasn’t been stung by the occasional walkout—a party that sneaks away before paying the bill. But seldom (if ever) has it been on the scale of what two Spanish restaurants recently experienced, when more than 100 patrons dined and dashed.
El Carmen, in Spain’s northwestern Castile area, was serving a group of 120, who’d booked the restaurant for what they said was a baptism celebration. The party had even given the place a deposit of nearly $1,000.
But after the group had eaten, some unnoticed signal was given and the whole party left in a stampede. There was no doubt that the mass exit had been choreographed, Antonio Rodriguez told local media. He was left about $1,100 in the hole.
News reports led to a confession of an even deeper loss at a restaurant about six miles away. A party of 160 had booked the Ricon de Pepin for what they said was a wedding celebration, and had put down about a $1,000 deposit. But after the food had been served, all of the guests slipped away in a flash, leaving behind a bill of nearly $10,000.
The similarities prompted the police to suspect that the same group had hit both establishments.
Does Sizzler U. have a football team?
Restaurant chains tend to pattern their management training programs after a college curriculum. That convention drew guffaws this week after the business degree claimed by an Iowa lawmaker was found to be a certificate from the Hamburger University-like program of a Sizzler franchisee.
Iowa State Sen. Mark Chelgren set himself up by introducing a controversial education bill. The Republican’s proposal called for capping the number of Democrats who could be hired to teach in Iowa’s state university system. The lawmaker was apparently concerned that students were being indoctrinated by educators with a liberal bias.
That triggered a scrutiny of Chelgren’s own educational background, particularly the claim of having a business management degree from Forbco Management school. Chelgren’s own party discovered that Forbco was a Sizzler franchisee based in the chain’s home turf of southern California.
Chelgren also claimed that he had majored in astro-physics, geo-physics and mathematics at the University of California’s Riverside campus. He did attend that institution for a year, but did not graduate, earning an associate degree instead from Riverside Community College.
'Just following orders'
Sometimes a hard-to-swallow explanation is told in purely good faith. Witness what happened at a Dave & Buster’s in Michigan when the staff asked a large party to either meet the dress code or ship out.
The group was wearing what the staff took to be gang colors, which the restaurant bans because the clothing can be a flashpoint for violence and hence a safety risk for all customers. As per the concept’s dress code, employees informed the visitors that they’d either have to take off the garb, turn their jackets inside out, or leave.
But the gang in this instance was a group of American Legion members—veterans who view their semi-uniform clothing as a way of reflecting the servicemen’s brotherhood.
The misread by the staff drew a storm of negative publicity.
Dave & Buster’s home office responded quickly, apologizing to the aggrieved group, offering to meet with veterans and pledging to adjust the chain’s dress code.
'Crips, Bloods or Airborne?'
A neighbor apparently doesn’t like living near Corduroy and Baby Whale, two restaurants in Washington, D.C., whose back doors open into an alley where the anonymous resident walks his dog. He recently provided local sanitation authorities with long lists of alleged health hazards posed by the restaurants, from lobster juice sluiced off the crustaceans right into the alleyway, to Dumpsters that attract rats. Deliveries will often sit outside for hours before being moved into refrigeration, the man asserted.
Health authorities checked out the assertions and found no violations on the scale alleged by the neighbor, but the man has apparently persisted.
Finally, someone got tired of the nag and figured they’d shut him up. They posted a sign in the alleyway facing the complainers apartment, reading, “You need a boyfriend!”