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Don’t dine and dash

The Cellar Pub and Grill strives to provide a good atmosphere for students on the hill.  But a few recent “walkouts” have staff asking customers to be mindful about footing the bill.

Just as recently as last Wednesday, someone walked out without paying for their meal. Eliott Arseneault, a supervisor at The Cellar, got left with the unpaid bill.

“If we do get a walk-out, the server has to pay it,” he said.

“We certainly have had an issue in the past, especially on our busy nights,” said Pat Hanson, who is now in his eighth year managing The Cellar.

“This year it hasn’t been too much of a problem. Out of the four or five we’ve had, we only have one that’s outstanding.”

To try and stop the problem, patrons may be asked to leave their ID or credit card with them until they’re settled up.

“I tell all the staff on those busy nights to do the old school pub method … so when you drop something, take money for it. Or start a credit card tab, and if [the patrons] don’t want to do either of those, [the servers] take their IDs,” said Hanson.

“If a server ever asks you for your ID card, it’s for that purpose,” said Arseneault,

Hanson says they give the servers a couple freebies throughout the year, but after that it would be up to them to cover the cost of the walk-out.

“Obviously I don’t want to put the staff in a bad spot by having them paying for bills that aren’t theirs,” he said.

“But at the same time, if they have recurring walkouts, they’re not doing one of those three things. If you’re paying enough attention to your tables, it won’t happen.”

“If the person comes back to pay the bill, obviously the money does go back to them.”

If you don’t pay your bill, The Cellar will track you down.

“Having our camera system makes a big difference,” said Hanson.

“The first step is to grab that picture off the camera footage and ask the staff if anyone knows them,” said Arseneault. “If you haven’t come the next day, we’ll hopefully try and track you down to get that bill paid.”

If you make an effort to ignore the staff trying to get in touch with you, you had better be prepared for a public shaming of your walk-out.

“One time last year we knew the person who walked out on the bill, and I contacted them via Facebook. And then the person changed their name on Facebook and blocked me so I couldn’t contact them anymore,” said Hanson, adding that he then posted on The Cellar’s Facebook telling the person to come and pay or they were never welcome back.

Needless to say they quickly came and paid up.

“I don’t want to be shaming anyone necessarily, but if I have to shame somebody to come and pay their bill, I certainly will,” Hanson said.

Usually it’s just a case of patrons forgetting to pay, but if you leave intentionally without paying your bill, beware.

“Whether that means having you charged with theft, or trying to go through the court system somehow to retrieve money from you,” said Hanson. “If your bill is big enough and it’s worth our while to do that, then we certainly will do that, but we don’t want to. We’re here for the students. You’re only hurting yourself if you walk out on a bill.”

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