Social media helps cops nab serial dine-and-dash pair

If you've thought about dining and dashing at Cleveland's restaurants, think again.

Especially now, in the age of social media, and among a group of Cleveland restaurant owners and managers who clearly have each others' backs.

Cleveland Police Det. Michael Cozart on Tuesday confirmed that a man has been arrested in connection with an incident at a downtown restaurant and that police are looking for another man. So, the investigation continues.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Listen to what happened in the wake of what local restaurateurs describe as a three-day, six restaurant crime spree of ill-gotten food and booze.

"It's all the talk down here," said Sam McNulty owner of Bar Cento, the Market Garden Brewery, and Nano Brew all on West 25th. "We feel kind of special they chose us to steal from first. It gives a new dimension to the phrase 'champagne taste and a beer budget.'"

But these perpetrators had no budget, apparently.

I'll let Steve Schimoler, the owner and chef at Crop Bistro, at Lorain and West 25th, begin the tale of elegant larceny.

"It began Thursday morning last week when I got a text from Jeff Draeger the general manager over at Bar Cento," said Schimoler. "He wanted to know if anybody had dined and dashed on me the night before. Two guys had. We began to compare notes. We looked at video from our places. And we checked them out on Facebook. It turns out we knew the guys. They had been servers at various places. But they were always fired for not showing up or just being bad at their jobs. They are in their late 20s is my guess.

"At Bar Cento, they racked up $200 in food and drinks at the bar and then claimed they were going out for a cigarette. Then they walked. They walked over to my place, Crop, where they consumed $160 worth of drinks and food in less than 30 minutes. You know it's one thing when somebody bangs you for a beer and burger and the check is $20. For these guys it was all top shelf. They pulled the cigarette thing again and split on that check."

The duo reportedly hit two other downtown places including The Butcher and Brewer on East 4th and Red, the Steakhouse, on Prospect.

"That's when I went on Facebook to alert other restaurant owners in the area to what these two were up to," Schimoler said. "I find a picture of the two of them on Facebook and posted that as well."

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