Aside from Paula Deen alone in a windowless room with a stick of butter, there is nothing more ignominious and savage in the food landscape than the dine and dash. You should never, ever dine and dash. Nobody should ever dine and dash. Your resultant restaurant karma will ensure that all the pubes end up in your pot pies, forever.
Now that that’s clear: here’s exactly how to do it.
As a former server, I’ve had a chance to dig deep inside the minds of dine-and-dashers. My step-by-step process will make your dining-and-dashing experience as much of an enriching one as possible.
Step one: Properly prepare yourself for the dine and dash
Like any other demanding task, a lot of your success here rests on prep work. You’re going to want to show up during the biggest rush possible and make sure you’re not part of a large party (where it’s harder to make an unobtrusive exit at the end), but also, you need to get yourself in the right mindset for your dining-and-dashing experience. Doing something cruel to an endangered species -- say, front-kicking an Indus River dolphin -- in the days leading up to the event will help put you in the proper frame of mind. Determine whether there’s an orphanage on the route from your house to the restaurant; if so, swing by and light the kitchen gruel-grease on fire on your way to your delicious free meal.
When you get there, park close to the front door and back into the space so you can zoom right out -- dashing is very difficult while executing 17-point turns. If you’re on foot, wear those creepy shoes with the articulated toes. In addition to helping you make a quick escape, there’s no way your server is going to want to spend even the slightest second longer than they have to around you if they see those things.
Step two: Make sure the host hates you deeply
After you arrive at the restaurant -- making sure to brush any soot from your shoulders and clean any dolphin tears from your shoes -- be sure to be as demanding as possible with the blameless host unfortunate enough to suffer your wrath. Fail to make a reservation, then insist on being sat immediately. Threaten a bad Yelp review. Threaten a bad Wirecutter review. Make heavy use of the phrase “Do you know who I am?” even if you are Sheldon Blortman, purveyor of monogrammed coffee Thermoses. Get as close to the “we’re calling the cops” line without ever actually crossing it. After all, you’re already engaging in some of the most objectively evil behavior possible, so why go half measure with it? Be the douche you want to see in the world. All of this will ensure that the host wants nothing to do with you ever again, which will provide massive benefits soon.
Step three: Same thing with your server
Push this hard. To keep them at a safe distance when the moment comes, you really need to get your (non-existent) money’s worth. Make up your own menu items, demand instant refills on everything (including loaded potato skins -- “Hey, are you going to reload these fuckers or WHAT??”), demand to see a gluten-free menu and then order something made of bread -- really go all out here. Your goal is to make your server dread the sight of you so that they spend as much time away from your table as possible. If that means there’s a slight chance they give in to their rage and do something unspeakable to you with a cheese grater, well, that’s a risk you’re just going to have to take.
Step four: When dashing time comes, don’t make it obvious
And now, the whole point of the damn thing: the dash. Obviously, you’re going to want to be subtle about this; running out of the restaurant screaming “I AM THE MASTER OF DINNERTIME” is less than ideal. Remember, you are literally a thief in the night, or possibly early afternoon -- act like one. Don’t be loud. Unlike what you’ve done for the previous part of the evening, don’t draw attention to yourself. Crucial: you have to make your move BEFORE you get the check -- once you’ve got it, they’re going to come back as quickly as possible, to finally get you out of there. Leave quietly, but confidently: if you look like you know you’re doing something horrendously awful, you’re way more likely to get stopped (and possibly tased, as per the fantasy of everyone who has ever had the misfortune to meet you).
Step five: Dash
Actually, despite the time-tested name, don’t dash. That would make it obvious! Thieves are always running away from something. And someone just used "dash" for alliteration's sake. Also, don’t wear one of those Hamburglar black masks that just barely covers your face around your eyes. Walk smoothly to your 1989 Pontiac Fiero, and just go. The restaurant employees (and anyone with a conscience) may hate you, but what do you care? You just got a free meal that you otherwise might have paid upwards of $12.50 for.
C.A. Pinkham is a former server who somehow fell ass-backwards into this whole getting paid to make words good thing. He currently runs the Kitchenette sub-blog at Jezebel, and is an expert on tipping, making fun of Guy Fieri, and enraging fans of Tim Hortons.