Sam Gets His Fingers Burned

Eight diners exit before paying for their entrees

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Eating out in Chiswick


An opportunistic group of diners at a Chiswick restaurant took advantage of a fire alarm to vanish into the night without paying.

The group of eight hot-footed it from outside Sam’s Brasserie and Bar as diners clustered in Barley Mow Passage following an evacuation on Wednesday night.

The restaurant had to be cleared at around 9.30 p.m. when a fire alarm went off in an office building over the restaurant.

The Fire Brigade was quickly on the scene and discovered the alarm was due to a fault in a heating system but there was no fire.

According to Sam Harrison, the restaurant had several groups at different tables halfway through their meals. For safety reasons, they had to ask people to leave the premises until the all-clear was given, even though the alarm was not connected with the restaurant.

At one stage there were about ninety people standing outside. After about forty-five minutes, the diners were allowed back in to resume their meals and the staff attempted to re-cook fresh main courses and offer complimentary drinks and wine.

However, the party of eight who had been outside with the rest of the customers and staff had vanished. Their bill came to £240 but as they had not booked a table, they cannot be traced. The group arrived at 7 p.m. and had drinks and food before the evacuation.

Owner Sam Harrison described it as “ opportunistic”.

It’s basically theft. If they had come back to us today and said they forgot to pay, or it was a mistake, or they were disgruntled, I would have understood, but to just vanish like that is really annoying”.

He estimated the false alarm cost the restaurant £ 400 in lost takings.

Another couple who also initially failed to return after the evacuation turned up some time later to pay their bill - they had gone to a nearby pub to finish off their evening out.

March 22, 2012