The action of dining and dashing, known in Spain as “simpa,” has mushroomed to epic dimensions in the south European country when a gang of 120 people reportedly hit restaurants at least twice in a week.
The first walkout involved 120 people who had eaten about 2,200 (1,907 or $2,322) of food and drink in a restaurant in Bembibre, in the northwestern Castile and Leon region.
The group paid a deposit of 900 to dine at the El Carmen in order to celebrate the christening of two boys. Just as the cake was on its way, the guests left “in a stampede,” according to the owner Antonio Rodriguez.
“They got in their cars and sped out,” the inconsolable restaurateur said.
A few days later, the gang reportedly struck again in Ponferrada, just 20 km away.
This time, they told the owner of El Rincon de Pepin, Laura Arias, that they were celebrating a wedding and paid 1,000 as a deposit.
Around 200 wedding guests showed up and consumed 10,000 worth of food and drink before leaving abruptly without settling the bill.
Arias told the BBC the group disappeared all of a sudden, within five minutes’ time.
“That was the unusual thing,” she said.
“Usually people leave over time, and you expect someone to come to talk to you and say they will settle the bill the next morning or something. But they didn’t say anything, they just disappeared.”
Following the latest incident, police arrested a man suspected of being the ringleader of the gang. The man allegedly posed to be the godfather of the baptised child and the father of the groom when he made the reservations, according to Diario de Leon.