Wahaca has said it was “wrong” to ask a waiter to pay part of the bill, after customers left without paying.
The restaurant chain said it only makes servers cover part of the bill in rare cases of “real negligence”.
A waiter in a London branch of Wahaca was asked by the manager to pay £3 towards the £40 bill, but has now been assured he will not have to pay, after a customer raised the issue on Twitter.
Wahaca said it would clarify policy internally following the incident.
Sarah Hayward, a former Labour leader of Camden council, tweeted that she was eating at Wahaca in Kentish Town when she witnessed the eat-and-run incident.
She told the BBC that the waiter then informed her he would have to cover the cost of the bill, prompting her to express her concerns on social media.
In response, Thomasina Miers, co-founder of the restaurant chain and 2005 Masterchef winner, tweeted: “We are a company that looks after our staff, and I am very proud of this.”
She added that, in this case, the waiter had not understood the policy.
Fellow co-founder Mark Selby told the BBC an individual should only be held accountable for an unpaid bill in cases of “real negligence” – where they allowed a customer to leave, knowing they had not paid.
He said the decision was down to the discretion of the branch’s manager, but the amount was generally 10% of the net bill minus VAT – or 30% of the food bill.
He added this was not applicable in this case and the waiter would not be expected to pay.
He said the company was speaking with the management team to ensure the policy was clearly communicated internally.
The Wahaca chain was founded by Ms Miers in 2007 and now has 25 branches across the UK.
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