Valentine's Day is one of the busiest nights of the year for restaurants. And despite a place's best efforts, love can turn disastrous. Here are two stories restaurants would like to forget.
Anthony Lombardo, Chef, 1789
This happened when I was working in Michigan. A guy decides he's going to propose, and he gives the manager this $30,000 ring because he wants it brought out in his date's tiramisu. The manager hands it off to this new pastry chef on the dessert station. Minutes later, the ring and the pastry guy were gone, nowhere to be found. He was going to pawn it.
One of the owners went looking for him, found him at a gas station, shook him down, and got the ring back. Meanwhile, we stalled the customer, and by the time he was starting to notice something was wrong, the ring was back in the restaurant. We shoved it in the tiramisu, she found it with her fork, licked it off, and put it on. She said yes.
Justin Abad, Co-owner, Cashion’s
Just after we bought the restaurant, a man told us he was going to propose to his girlfriend and asked that we bring over two glasses of Champagne after she said yes. He asked for the round table in the middle of the restaurant. Around 8:30, the restaurant is packed and he goes down on one knee. Everyone stops eating and goes silent. But the girlfriend has this look of horror and surprise. She gets up from the table crying and walks out.
I’m there with the tray of Champagne, and the guy is still on one knee, frozen. I pick him up and take him to the bar and tell the bartender to pour shots of Jameson. He takes his shot, and we tell him, “You’re on us tonight. Hang at the bar and have whatever you want to eat or drink.” He got very drunk—and tried to leave the ring as a tip.
This article appears in the February 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.