Running a restaurant is a tough enterprise. Owners often find themselves working thankless tasks at all levels of the business trying to give customers top-rate service and an unforgettable dining experience, but can easily be robbed of the proceeds.
The potential pitfalls awaiting restaurateurs are numerous and varied. While disasters like kitchen fires can easily erase a restaurant in hours if they get out of control, dishonest diners can bleed a business dry over years by simply skipping the check.
The latter issue has been a perennial problem for all eateries, but one appears to have devised an ingenious way to end the practice for good.
In fact, the “fix” created by Tampa, Florida, bar and restaurant Rick’s on the River has dine-and-dashers crawling back to pay their delinquent tabs. In an Aug. 5 post, the eatery explained how it has turned its Facebook page into a wall of shame.
“Obviously these folks were unaware that if you Dine-N-Dash at Rick’s, you get identified via social media,” Rick’s wrote in a Facebook video post. The accompanying clip shows diners apparently skipping the check, one with a young child in her arm.
“These are the latest perps to Eat it and Beat It and ‘forgot’ to pay,” the post continued. “Note the quick getaway method of throw your little guy in the backseat and let him buckle up. Got great pics of you, your car and tag. Return and pay your tab!”
The post noted the women were not exactly stealing bread to feed a starving child — the bill apparently included “a beer and 2 tequila sunrises.”
An update to the post reveals one of the women did return and pay the tab.
Months earlier, a similar post on Rick’s page achieved the same results, bringing a dine-and-dasher back to pay another “forgotten” tab — though without a tip for the server.
“We use this as also a deterrent,” Rick’s on the River owner Ken Brackins told “Fox & Friends First” on Thursday. “We’re not really trying to … get the money as much as use as a deterrent.
“We don’t want those customers back.”
The restaurateur makes it clear that his actions are not just about the money by making the customers physically return to the eatery.
“We always make them come back in and pay, that want to pay over the phone,” Brackins said, “but we make them do the walk of shame and come in and pay.”
Brackins says he does not call the police, stating his local department is likely “too busy for this kind of nonsense.”
An Aug. 21 posting to the Rick’s Facebook page proves the restaurant will not be retiring its signature punk-shaming scheme anytime soon. It shows a patron who, the eatery alleges, failed to pay a tab that included a pitcher of beer.
The post has had more than 100 interactions so far, hinting that this Mercedes-driving diner might well come crawling back to Rick’s to settle the delinquent bill — if only to quell the publicity.
At a time when shoplifters and other low-level criminals are given free run of too many areas, at least one small business owner is stepping up to shame lawbreakers into doing the right thing.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.