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La Bodega assistant manager Frank Chow is asking the public to help identify a dine and dasher.

We’ve all heard of the infamous dine and dash, but a local restaurant is now calling on the public through Twitter to catch a particular culprit. La Bodega tweeted a security camera photo Monday of a man who left the restaurant without paying his bill. It’s captioned, “Beware of this dine and dasher!!”

 

“Our main objective is to find the individual and get the money back, the second objective is to make the rest of the community aware of this individual’s abuse of the laws that are in place,” said La Bodega owner Adam Sperling.

 

Assistant manager Frank Chow was the one who tweeted the photo. He said the man in the photo is one of three patrons who left a $150 bill.

“I think I’ve already achieved what I wanted to do. First of all, people that dine and dash don’t dine and dash again. And two, that other local businesses don’t get ripped off like we did.”

 

Dine and dashing leads to significant financial losses, especially for independant restaurants, said Sperling. “The public doesn’t think that this happens. And the public has this assumption that these restaurants are making money hand over fist, when it’s very slim margins and sometimes no margins at all,” he said. “If someone walks out on a $400 tab that’s your whole profit margin for that evening.”

 

Sperling said servers at La Bodega are not responsible for paying the tab of dine and dashers, but they also lose money. Sperling said that most servers make minimum wage, with tips making up a significant part of their total earnings. He estimates that an average tip is 20 per cent of the meal, so on a $150 bill a server stands to lose about $30.

 

Dining and dashing is illegal under the criminal code. It’s classified as a summary conviction, which would result in an appearance in court, said Elizabeth Popowich of the Regina Police Service. She added that if you are a victim of crime you should report it to the police. But La Bodega is doing what businesses have always done—alerting other restaurants—only now with social media.

 

Sperling said using social media to shame the culprit instead of calling the police comes out of frustration at not being able to catch dine and dashers. The business has even installed security cameras in part because of people walking out on tabs. He said if any of the staff can identify a patron who leaves without paying they call them and threaten to call the police. But if staff don’t know the patron, then it’s much more difficult. “We’ve been able to recoup on a couple of occasions, our losses, but ... you have to look for the person and that’s a lot of time and energy, and it’s not good energy.”

 

“I see enough (dine and dashing), but honestly, there’s not much you can do about it. Our servers do a good job, but they can’t be everywhere,” said Chow. “I guess you look for suspicious activity, but you can’t really make that judgement call when the restaurant is full.”

 

But so far the tweet seems to be working. Chow said he has received a lot of responses, some with possible identifications of the man in the photo. However they haven’t found the true identity of the man yet. They’ve also received a lot of responses from local businesses now on the lookout.