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Sunday Musings: A New Way To Combat Dine-And-Dashers

In the past, we’ve addressed the phenomenon of restaurant patrons running out on their bills. Resto operators have been unable to come up with a way to successfully deal with what’s commonly called ‘dining and dashing’. Until now…

Mellissa Beaver - © 2024 - Moonshine BBQ and SmokehouseMelissa Beaver and her ‘Pay It Forward’ wall…

Many solutions have been proposed to the dine-and-dash problem. But none has yet proven entirely effective. Now, though, a Montreal resto owner, Melissa Beaver has come up with a novel approach.

A growing concern

Beaver is the co-owner of the Moonshine BBQ & Smokehouse on Monkland Ave., in Montreal’s ancient and venerable Notre Dame de Grace neighbourhood.

“We have a great community. I love […] N.D.G.,” she told CTV News. But the dine and dash rate has been accelerating over the past few months.

“It’s a difficult period in the economy, and people don’t have enough money to eat, so maybe now that’s what’s happening,” said Dominique Tremblay, Director of Public Affairs at Association Restauration Quebec. “What we’ve heard [on social media] that it’s kind of like a thrill, an experiment, just to dine and dash.”

Alas, it’s also a tough time for restaurants, many of which have closed in the post-COVID era. It’s the same story everywhere: rising food prices and a dwindling pool of workers willing to do foodservice jobs. Not to mention he pressure of rising minimum wages in many jurisdictions.

What Beaver is doing

She’s put up a ‘Pay It Forward’ wall in her dining room. It’s a pretty simple way for customers who can afford it to ‘pay forward’ a burger for someone who can’t afford it.

“We […] ask our other patrons, ‘Hey, if you feel like you want to assist this and purchase a burger for somebody, then we put it up on the wall and it allows us to grab more food for our community.”

The idea is, you ‘buy a burger’ but don’t take delivery. Just post the cash register receipt on the Big Wall to help cover the potential loss from the next dine and dash.

My take


I like Beaver’s notion. It makes sense and it foes ensure that she still gets something in the till when a customer dine and dashed. And it appears some of her customers are, in fact, ‘Paying It Forward’.

But I have an even better idea: Ask customers to pay for their order before they actually receive it. It’s a radical idea, I know, for a sit-down resto. But it’s been common practice for decades in the Fast Food sector. Most folks are already used to the idea.

I also like the idea that pay-ahead lets me eat at my own speed, and not have to worry about a hovering server. Not to mention not having to wait for them to bring bill, and pay it before I can leave.

My question to you:

I think the ‘Pay It Forward principle might just be the ultimate customer-friendly business model to protect restos from losses due to dine-and-dasher.

I also think it would be natural, for some restos, at least, to implement pay-upfront models to avoid rip-offs. Though this would not fulfill Beaver’s desire to help folks in her community who can’t afford food to pay for their meal.

Which option do you prefer? And why?

Muse on that…

~ Maggie J.