Eat-and-run incidents on the rise

Local eatery the Apothecary has been subject to a number of walk-outs recently. Photo Wayne Martin

A local business has seen an increase in walk-outs under the red light system.

Carmen Holmes – co-owner of local cafes and restaurants The Apothecary, Daisy Chang and Piggy Bar – told the Times that there had been a number of diners doing runners without paying.

“We’ve had a few since the red light systems,” Carmen says. “We’ve had to change how we do things.”

The walk-outs were on February 17, February 16, February 14, February 12, February 4, and a number in January .

Customers used to walk-in, choose from the array of food in the cabinet, order and pay at the same time, and be given a number before taking a seat at a table.

“I think we’ve just got so many lovely regulars that come all the time and that pattern is ingrained.”

Now, under the red light system where everyone has to be seated, there needs to be another employee at the front door checking vaccine passports before customers can come in and then they’re being seated and served.

“I think what’s happening is that they’re forgetting,” Carmen says. “There’s probably a small element that is not good, but on the whole I think it’s just a genuine mistake, but at times those genuine mistakes are quite costly.”

Typically the walk-outs are at peak times when staff are busy and monitoring is difficult.

After a social media post by the Apothecary was published detailing the issue, a recent walk-out that occurred on February 17 returned to pay their bill. “It was an honest mistake,” Carmen says.

“Howick is such a lovely place and such a lovely community. On the whole, everyone would come in whole-heartedly wanting to pay. The way our system is working, with everyone having to be seated, has added a bit of complexity to what usually is a simple process.”

Since then, the system has been changed, which will “identify people that haven’t paid”.

“We’re hoping that this will alleviate this issue”.

Local restaurants and cafes, such as the Barrell Inn, the Prospect of Howick and Grangers, have not been experiencing these issues.