So which person or event would win the honor of the Most Embarrassing Restaurant Story of 2010?
Would it be the anonymous "Pizza Bandit" in Boston who pulled a really nasty prank? Or maybe the angry restaurant owner who insisted that the restaurant reviewer for the Los Angeles Times, and her friends, get out of his dining room?
Here are five classic examples of embarrassing restaurant moments from this year. You decide which tale stands out as the worst.
The Fake Bob Dylan Roadie. You can't help but think maybe liquor or drugs might have clouded the judgment of a "decent enough guy" in Amherst who, wisely, insists upon remaining anonymous after the police nabbed him for a pizza prank that went horribly awry. The decent-enough-guy walked into Amherst's Antonio's Pizza on the same night that Bob Dylan was performing at Mullins Center. Wearing backstage credentials from the concert, he announced that he was a roadie with the Dylan tour. He then ordered 178 extra-large pizzas that he neither picked up nor paid for. Claiming to be remorseful about the $3,900 pizza order (which involved the Antonio's staff working until 5 a.m.), the "pizza bandit" paid an undisclosed settlement this month to the pizza shop's owner.
The Uptight Vegan Coffeehouse Owner. John Langley, owner of Portland, Oregon's Red & Black Cafe, was happy enough to sell uniformed police officer James Crooker a cup of java. He just didn't want Crooker actually staying in the restaurant. So he walked up and asked the cop to leave, on the grounds that he was making other customers in the place uncomfortable. A Portland blogger witnessed the event and posted the story, which led to a flurry of comments and even TV coverage. Langley's rationale was that some of his customers "including homeless people and activists" had experienced police harrassment (although not specifically from Crooker) in the past.
The Fat Guy Has an Epiphany. The celebrity photographer Peter Beard once said, "Motivation is valuable no matter how you get it, even a slap in the face." In the case of 450-pound Matt Hoover, it was the sting of shame that finally forced him to lose 300 pounds. After arranging to meet friends in Boston at an Italian restaurant, Hoover arrived at the venue and discovered that he couldn't sit in any of its chairs. He was simply too fat. So while his friends ate Italian food, the mortified Hoover ate by himself in a nearby coffee shop. The shame, he said later, took him on a three-year weight-loss journey.
Meet Nicole Ward, Waitress and Alleged Thief. Apparently the tips she was getting at a Washington, D.C., Cheesecake Factory weren't lucrative enough for waitress Nicole Ward, who was arrested on charges of stealing $117,000 from restaurant customers by stealing their credit-card numbers and selling the numbers to a crime syndicate specializing in credit-card fraud, which paid her $40 per stolen card.
Angry Restaurateur Kicks Out Critic and Outs Her, Too. Although she tries to remain anonymous, Los Angeles Times restaurant critic S. Irene Virbila was recognized by Noah Ellis, the owner of the Red Medicine Restaurant. Ellis, still enraged by a negative review that Virbila had written about one of his dining spots, demanded that she and her friends leave the restaurant, but not before snapping her photograph and posting it on the restaurant's website.
(Image via Flickr: bitterjug)