Illustration by Max Kornell
Illustration by Max Kornell

We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

The scene: Todd Gray, like a number of chefs, likes to offer wine pairings with his six-course tasting menu at Equinox. For good reason, the pours for each of these six wines, from Champagne to dessert wine, are smaller than your typical glass of vino. “It doesn’t seem like you’re getting a full glass of wine, but once you get to the sixth course, it’s a lot of wine,” says Ellen Kassoff-Gray, general manager and co-owner.

Most people understand the logic. One man didn’t. He arrived at the table “with a cocky attitude” and a cocktail already in him. “The server would pour it, and he’d say, ‘No, no! More!’ He was out there to prove a point,” Kassoff-Gray recalls. “A lot of times, people use service staff to prove a point at the table with their friends like, ‘I’m in control. You stick with me. I know what I’m doing.’ ”

The server tried to explain the pour policy but ultimately obliged the adamant diner, giving him twice the normal pour, lest customer and waiter get into a fight right there in the dining room. The server and management had a hunch it would lead to disaster.

“By the fifth course, [the customer] got up from the table stumbling, tried to make it to the bathroom, but didn’t, and threw up all over the bar,” the general manager says. The bar, it should be noted, was packed. “The people at the bar got sprayed,” she says.

The solution: The first order of business, Kassoff-Gray says, was to offer to pay the dry-cleaning bill for the folks at the bar. Second, they paid for their drinks. And what about the guy who insisted on wine, wine, and more wine, even when the waiter tried to counsel otherwise? “You can’t throw the guy out,” the GM says, “because we’re not that kind of place. We’re not a tavern. These people are in a coat and tie, and it wasn’t like he was unruly….He was just a moron, just drunk.”

They didn’t kick him out, but they did present him with the check before he could sample the dessert course. “He knew, too,” says Kassoff-Gray. “It’s a small restaurant, you know. Everybody’s staring at you. It would be amazing if you actually stayed. So I think in these situations…it pretty much takes care of itself.”