Good grub, bad customer
February 19, 2008
The group dined on game and seafood, ordered from a special menu.
The 75 people eating together at Grub Steak Restaurant on Friday evening then had their desserts.
Afterward, a dispute ensued between the person in charge of the 75 people and restaurant management, prompting someone with the restaurant to call the police.
The restaurant told the Park City Police Department a man refused to pay a $4,400 bill, a huge amount of money even in Park City’s high-end restaurant market.
Police involvement was minimal in the Grub Steak case, the department says, but the restaurant had to negotiate with the man before he paid the big tab. Police records do not provide details about the case.
Hans Fuegi, who owns the restaurant but was not there at the time, says the bill was taken care of on Friday, and he agreed to take a few hundred dollars off the tab. He reports he had a "very civil conversation" with the man involved on Tuesday morning.
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Fuegi says the man is from the Salt Lake Valley, but he does not provide details about the man or the party he was with.
He says the 75 people arrived at the restaurant at about 8 p.m. They ordered from a preset menu of four or five dishes that Grub Steak offers big groups.
"They were very happy, actually. The gentleman was very happy with the food," Fuegi says, adding that two or three waiters were assigned to the group and other help assisted.
After the meal, and once the group was finished with dessert, there was a disagreement about the desserts. According to Fuegi, the man claimed he was overcharged for the desserts.
"He said there were some desserts that were big enough for people to split," Fuegi says, adding, "He claimed there were more desserts served than were ordered."
The restaurant agreed to take some of the desserts off the bill, but the man refused to pay, Fuegi says. The manager then called the police.
"This is very, very unusual," Fuegi says, indicating the restaurant sometimes calls the police to handle unruly diners but only once before have the police been called because someone refused to pay a pill.
Officers arrived, Fuegi says, and told the man if he did not pay the bill he would be arrested. The man paid the bill with a credit card after the manager reduced the tab by a "fair amount."
The episode occurred as the restaurant was busy with holiday-weekend visitors. Presidents Day is one of the busiest weekends of the ski season, and restaurants throughout Park City were jammed on Friday.
Fuegi says the restaurant called the police because the money at stake — $4,400 — was a significant amount. He says there was "too much money involved there" to allow the customer to leave without paying.
"What other resource do you have? You don’t have a choice but to call the police," he says.
He says tabs topping $4,000 are rare at Grub Steak, which is especially popular with Parkites who sometimes choose to dine there because parking spots are typically easy to find.
"We gave this group good service, and I know our food is good," Fuegi says.