Restaurant loses £1,000 after diners leave without paying bill during fire alarm

Restaurant bosses claim they lost more than £1,000 after dozens of 'opportunist' customers sneaked off without paying their bills during a fire alarm.

Panam Restaurant & Bar, in Liverpool's Albert Dock, was evacuated last Tuesday evening when a faulty system triggered the fire alarms of all the eateries along the waterfront.

But after rushing customers out of the venue for their own safety, staff claim 50 cheeky diners never returned to pay for their food and drinks.

General manager Daniel Hesketh said the 'unacceptable' incident had seen the independent restaurant lose more than £1,000 – and has now released CCTV footage showing the dramatic difference in guest numbers before and after the alarm.

He said: "The whole restaurant industry is becoming harder and harder and the last thing we need is for people to walk off without paying for their food for something that wasn't our fault and was completely beyond our control.

"We evacuated for diners' safety, not to inconvenience anybody, but we compensated them anyway because we knew it wasn't convenient.

"Everybody who came back had a discount on their bill and we recooked their food for them free of charge.

"I think the people who left were opportunistic and probably thought it wouldn't matter because we are a business, but it does hit hard.

"You wouldn't steal from a shop, so why is it okay to leave a restaurant without paying?

"People may think the service industry is some sort of public service, but we work hard to keep places going and encourage people to dine out.

"Everyone complains when there's empty shops on the high street or restaurants closing down but acts like this hardly help us out."

Daniel said after the evacuation was over, staff went above and beyond to re-cook all customers meals and offering a discount on their bills.

He said the restaurant has been able to cover their losses from the evening, but lost £740 in unpaid tables and an estimated £300 in recooking meals.

Despite initially appealing for people to return and pay their bills, the restaurant decided not to report the incident to police as Daniel said this would be a waste of officers' time.

Since the incident the waterside restaurant has been plagued by the faulty alarm system sounding several more times, but has managed to avoid another full evacuation.

Daniel said: "We weren't the only restaurant that was affected that night, but when we spoke to other restaurants on the dock, they had just sort of accepted that people would walk off without paying.

"I've been really surprised by it and I think the more that we've challenged the idea that it's the norm, the more people have realised that it's not acceptable and it shouldn't happen."

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