Family 'flee without paying and threaten to torch restaurant if pic made public'

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Joe Smith, co-owner of Smokin
Joe Smith, co-owner of Smokin' Joe's (Image: Smokin' Joe's)

A restaurant owner said a family left without paying their bill and then threatened him to "burn down" the premises if he made her image public.

Joe Smith, co-owner of the popular eatery Smokin' Joe's in Guisborough, Redcar and Cleveland, North Yorkshire, turned to social media after a man, a woman and two children ate loaded nachos, a burger and chicken tenders but did not pay their £68.64 bill. Mr Smith said that when it was time to pay, it became apparent that the couple did not have any cash and only had one card between them, but the woman's one did not work - and neither did her online banking.

Mr Smith said the woman insisted she was "very sorry" and promised to return the following day to settle her bill, but she has not done so yet. The family's full itemised bill included nachos with cheese, pulled pork and BBQ sauce, three portions of kids chicken tenders, a smash stack XXL premium burger and two sides, a dirty southerner bad bwoi burger and two sides, halloumi fries and regular chicken poppers.

Family 'flee without paying and threaten to torch restaurant if pic made public' rriddqixxiqezinvA customer who did not pay the bill threatened to burn down the restaurant, its co-owner said (Smokin' Joe's)

But since the woman did not visit the venue on Wednesday to pay the bill, the owner uploaded a post to social media explaining the situation, asking her to get in touch or face her image being posted on the internet. She then messaged, apologising for the situation and saying she intended to pay - but added she still had issues with online banking, reports Teesside Live.

Mr Smith then uploaded a blurred image of the woman on Facebook, threatening to post the unedited version if the bill was not paid within 48 hours. He claims the woman then called him and "threatened to "burn down the premises" - now describing the situation as a "circus".

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"At the moment, as I am a man of my word, I am going to give the woman an extra 48 hours since she contacted us yesterday," Joe added. "Once the initial post went up it started to gain momentum. She contacted us saying she was really sorry again and that she still had problems with her online banking. We said we would give her 48 hours. We then posted a picture of her, that we had taken in the restaurant, with her face blurred out."

Joe said some social media users had accused the venue of creating a "marketing ploy" - but he insisted that it is "a real situation" and that the venue is simply "looking to try and make the best out of a bad situation". He said: "The lady contacted us saying it was out of order to post a picture and saying she is not going to pay. She said her brothers would burn down the premises over the phone. I think we have been more than fair."

While Smokin' Joe's remains a popular haunt for foodies in Guisborough and has a score of 4.6 on Google Reviews, Mr Smith admitted that the cost of energy and suppliers have impacted the business. He said the incident is not what they need "given the current climate". Despite the incident, the venue still plans to launch its new menu this Friday. Mr Smith said he reported the threats to the police.

Alex O'Leary

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