VANCOUVER – It’s been a bittersweet few weeks for Amar Maroke. The Vancouver restaurant owner set up his outdoor patio at the Four Olives restaurant in early June, but since then he has had three incidents of patrons having dinner and rushing around.
After the first two, Maroke decided to install a security camera outside. The third incident, which occurred around 3 p.m. Saturday, was recorded.
In the video, a man can be seen sitting on the patio. Maroke says customers ordered a few beers and a full meal, totaling around $ 75. As a family passes on the sidewalk, the man gets up from their seat, walks with the family and leaves.
“It didn’t happen often, maybe once a year indoors, but outdoors it happened three times in a month,” Maroke said. “It’s probably $ 200 in a month… What can you do? Do you have the choice? You can’t run after them.
Maroke says that every time a customer runs away without paying their bill, only one server is running.
Ian Tostenson, president of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, believes the staff shortage could be a contributing factor.
“You can just look at the situation and see that there’s really no one there to oversee, so you can eat and drink and get out of there,” Tostenson said.
Across British Columbia, the service industry is short of about 40,000 workers, both at the entry and back, according to Tostenson.
He says many people left the industry during the pandemic because the work was unstable. Others are afraid to return due to COVID concerns, and others are working “minimal hours” to continue receiving federal benefits, such as the Canadian Recovery Benefit, or CRB, Tostenson said.
When it comes to the eating and craving incidents, Tostenson says there hasn’t been a significant increase.
“It’s surfacing a little more than normal; we haven’t talked about dinner and running for years, ”he said. “But thank goodness it’s not pandemic level, if you will.”
His simple message to restaurateurs is to “stop being a jerk”.
“Go have fun, but pay your bill too,” he said.