A restaurant owner has warned other businesses about diners refusing to pay for food after he was left with a £770 bill.
A party of 18 people visited East Z East in Church Street, Preston but after having two courses each plus drinks, the Indian restaurant’s owner Jay Akhtar claimed they refused to pay the bill.
And he said police officers told him it was out of their hands because it was a civil rather than a criminal matter.
He said: “The group took their time to get in. By the time they all sat down they said ‘no rush, we’ll have a chat’.
“They had poppadoms and starters and then said their starters had come too late.
“We told them it was a big group and some would get their food straight away and some later. They started complaining about the main courses. Within 15 minutes I brought them out.
“One of the guys said ‘we’re not going to pay the bill’ and I thought ‘we will deal with this at the end’. My manager came in the kitchen and said ‘they’re not paying’ and they all walked out.”
The 43-year-old said a scuffle broke out between the group and his staff outside.
He said: “It looked really ugly, so I told them to get out of here. I said ‘stay away from my restaurant if you don’t have the money to come in’.
“I said ‘you’re on CCTV and I’ve got your details’. But when I rang the police they said they couldn’t do anything about it.”
Mr Akhtar, who has run the East Z East chain for 12 years, said the incident on January 18 was the second of its kind in the last two months.
He said: “I know quite a few people have started doing this. There was a group over Christmas as well.
“They had lots to drink and they didn’t pay for anything. I said ‘you can’t do that, we have to come to some sort of agreement’.
“You could say 20 per cent off, but they refused to pay for anything.
“It’s worrying because it’s becoming a trend - people think they can get away with it.”
Lancashire Police said they were aware of the latest incident.
A police spokesman said officers contacted the person who made the booking, who told them they had not been happy with the service they received.
She said: “They said they were happy to pay for the drinks but not happy to pay for the meal, and said the manager kicked them out of the restaurant.
“The manager was spoken to and confirmed that this was the case. As no offence was committed it is a civil dispute.”