Chef claims ‘aggressive’ family planted plastic in food and demanded free meal

The owners of a restaurant in Cornwall say a group of chancers tried “the oldest shakedown in the books” in order to avoid paying a £107 bill.

Jamie MacLean, 36, who owns Mackerel Sky Seafood Bar with his wife Nina MacLean, 36, says staff at the Newlyn tapas bar were confronted by an "aggressive" man and woman who were dining with their young children.

The owners called the situation “the oldest shakedown in the books” saying they believe the family had no intention of paying the three-figure food bill before claiming they found a piece of plastic in one of the dishes.

Jamie and Nina, who have been running the bar for the past seven years, say they are 99 % sure the plastic did not come from their kitchen.

"Basically he was abusive to staff and came straight up to the kitchen saying he found something in his food, cracked his tooth and started filming the staff,” Jamie told Cornwall Live.

The man produced a piece of plastic that he says was in his food. But Jamie and Nina maintain it was unlike anything that might be found in their kitchen

“We occasionally might get the odd caterpillar in lettuce or something like that but I can count on one hand the amount of incidents we have had of a foreign item found in our food and we have tons of customers every day,” Jamie continued.

Jamie says on the rare occasion that things go wrong most customers would be happy to accept a free drink or the affected dish be taken off the bill as compensation.

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But Jamie believes these particular visitors had intended on getting a free meal from the outset.

“In this situation you placate them and usually they understand that mistakes can happen but he was filming and threatening the staff,” said Jamie. “It was just a classic shakedown. Then, of course, they announced that they were not going to pay anything.”

He continued: “Obviously I was duty bound to investigate straight away but they basically knew exactly what they wanted and they were hellbent on getting it. It’s petty theft at the end of the day.”

“[The customer] couldn’t give me any straight answers about anything he just kept telling me he cracked his tooth and how he wasn’t going to be paying for anything.”

But despite the ordeal, the couple remain positive, saying: “We’re very busy and you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth, it’s no big skin off our noses.”

After receiving an outpouring of public support, Jamie and Nina want what happened at their restaurant to be a warning to other businesses in Cornwall this season.

“There are people out there who are hellbent on freeloading this year despite everything that has happened they will still take the p***,” said Jamie. “We get loads of really fabulous tourists every year and we love the season. We have fabulous staff and suppliers and we love what we do, but ultimately this kind of thing affects all of them as well.

“We’ve had lots of lovely support and the positives of this situation far outweigh the negatives though.”

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