Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Diners from across the nation stepping up to pay their tabs after being forced to leave on day of the Boston Marathon

Marathon-goers who had to leave their unpaid restaurant tabs behind when the deadly bombings interrupted
lunch are stepping up to pay the check — making good on their debts from across the nation, the Herald has learned.
“They all said, ‘Listen, we were there, having a good time, and we want to pay our tab,’” said Tony Castagnozzi, owner of the Rattlesnake Bar, who said he has received a flood of calls since the April 15 terror attack. “I was speechless. ... You see there are so many good people out there. It makes you feel good.”
Castagnozzi, who has owned the Boylston Street bar for 23 years, said his customers were forced to leave behind more than $3,000 in unpaid tabs when cops evacuated them after the bombings. Since then, he’s received nearly a dozen letters and calls from customers who’ve made good on their bills. In all, Castagnozzi estimates the bar has recouped about $1,200.
The first call came from a man from Denver who had a $91 tab and called to give his credit card over the phone. Then came calls from Florida, Virginia, Rhode 
Island, New Hampshire and across Massachusetts.
“It’s the right thing to do, isn’t it? At least in my mind it is,” said David Christmas, an Acton runner who has run the marathon 16 times. He was having beers with friends and family when the bombs went off. He sent in $50 to cover his $35 bar tab and a tip.

A handful of good-hearted customers evacuated from the Charlesmark Hotel also have since settled up their tabs, including a liquor company that was sponsoring a marathon party, 
according to operating partner Mark Hagopian — though the hotel lost all record of running tabs when the FBI seized abandoned credit cards, and the hotel’s system zeroed itself out.
“When they took them, they also took all of the cellphones, all of the cameras and everything that was lying around,” Hagopian said. “The FBI actually called all the numbers on the backs of the credit cards and canceled them.”
Castagnozzi said all the stand-up diners have insisted on adding tips for the waitresses, who were left not only emotionally scarred from the attack, but also without one of their biggest paydays of the year.
“They didn’t expect anything,” Castagnozzi said of his wait staff. “Marathon day is our busiest day of the year. And they work hard. So they were pleasantly surprised.”
Meg Mainzer-Cohen, president of the Back Bay Association, added: “I just think it further demonstrates how the community came together to support businesses and the victims of this incident. It just further demonstrates what a great city we live in.”
City Councilor Michael P. Ross, who represents the Back Bay, said the 
Rattlesnake good Samaritans are a shining symbol of the neighborhood’s ongoing recovery.
“I’m not surprised,” Ross said. “There’s just been a tremendous amount of support for our city and the businesses in the Back Bay.”
A number of other Boylston Street restaurants told the Herald they haven’t had the same positive experience — they’ve been left holding the bag on marathon day tabs — but they weren’t complaining.
“We’re all set,” Vlora chef/owner Aldo Velaj said. “We’ve gotten so much business because of the support, that we’ve made our money back. We’re getting extra business because of people coming to Boylston Street.”