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Posted on Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 9:45 a.m.

Police: Man pulls knife on Denny's staff after dispute over restaurant service

By John Counts

A 65-year-old Ypsilanti man was arrested after he threatened the staff of a Denny's restaurant in Ann Arbor with a knife as he attempted to leave without paying for his meal, police said.

When the man finished his meal at the Denny's located at 3310 Washtenaw Ave. in Ann Arbor around 3:45 a.m. Tuesday morning, he tried leaving without taking care of the bill, Ann Arbor police Sgt. Paul Curtis said.

"He had a cab waiting for him outside," Curtis added. "He told the staff he wasn't paying because he didn't like the service."

Staff members followed the man out of the restaurant and told the cab driver the man hadn't paid for his meal. The driver of the cab, which police believe the man called for while eating his meal, kicked him out of the vehicle.

Meanwhile, staff members tried getting the man to pay his bill. That's when the 65-year-old revealed a weapon.

"He pulled out a folding knife and started making threatening statements to the staff," Curtis said.

The staff retreated back inside the restaurant and called the police, then came out on the sidewalk, where the man was still standing, and tried talking to him one last time. The man again threatened them with the knife.

Police arrived and ordered the man to drop the knife, which he did, Curtis said. The 65-year-old was arrested without incident and taken to the Washtenaw County Jail, where he was held overnight on a charge of felonious assault.

The man was expected to be arraigned on the charge Tuesday.

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John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


Resident A2

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

I guess it would have been cheaper for him to just have paid his bill.

John Counts

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 4:53 p.m.

This story has been updated and the suspect identified here:


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 9:56 p.m.

"The man was expected to be arraigned on the charge Tuesday." It is now Wed. evening. Will you be identifying the alleged perpetrator in this dine and dash?

Richard Carter

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

You went to Denny's! Wildly inconsistent service comes with that decision.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 9:39 a.m.

Wasn't he about 12 hours early (or late) for dinner?


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 4:19 a.m.

Sounds like he just got a roof over his head, 3 meals a day, and medical care. Look for more "elderly" crimes of need

Susan Ursus

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 12:11 a.m.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say alcohol was probably involved.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 11:54 p.m.

Sadly, the whole thing is pretty much mute...I work in a profession where I work with these types of bozos all the time...they get a slap on the wrist; none of them have money to pay for the tickets so the city can't collect and nothing really happens; they get put on probation which doesn't follow them very closely. Most likely its a person who is already in a care setting, and I will et the cab was A-Ride, which is paid for with voucher, not out of pocket like you and I pay. Its a function of the mental health system in Michigan (really anywhere) at this point. The biggest charge here will be the weapons charge, and even that won't last for more than a day or two of jail time. Waste of time case that will cost more to prosecute because it has now become a media-driven story than any outcome you will see here.

Richard Carter

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

Do you mean "moot," rather than "mute?"


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 10:33 p.m.

He'll definitely get free food in prison.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 7:28 p.m.

yes, but is prison food any better than Denny's? Hmmmm.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

No, he'll be out on the streets doing the same thing tomorrow. aka - our judicial system.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 10:32 p.m.

"He told the staff he wasn't paying because he didn't like the service." Translation: He didn't like the part when the wait staff brought the bill to his table.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 10 p.m.

Maybe we wasn't planning on paying for his cab fare, either...

Ryan Martin

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.

If the service is lousy you still have to pay for your food, just leave a tiny tip. If the food is lousy, talk to the manager and see what can be done to correct it. That being said, you basically get what you pay for at 3:45 am at Denny's...or don't pay for in this case.

Ricardo Queso

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

What we need is knife control!


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 6:22 a.m.

No, what we need is self control.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 9:08 p.m.

even better...bullet control (a la Chris Rock).


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 8:50 p.m.

you mean the police didnt shoot and kill him? Maybe they need some training from the Oakland County Sheriff


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

You're so funny, Joe, you should be on television.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 7:59 p.m.

Pretty sad affair. Many seniors go hungry and do need food aid but are too proud or unaware of such help. Sometimes menu math is no longer "calculable" for the elderly and when the tab comes they realize they can't pay. If he called the AATA Night Ride cab it would have cost him $2.50 with a senior card or $5 without. Much more if it were a regular taxi. Because Night Ride is shared they won't wait very long for fares so he may have just decided to leave rather than to wait for the dinner bill and miss his only ride home. If he could at least afford the taxi and just needed to keep warm that night, he could have ordered coffee instead of a meal and waited to take the 6 AM Washtenaw bus back to Ypsi (free for seniors). Maybe the cab driver averted a second robbery.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 8:39 p.m.

No matter what the financial situation, there is never a reason to threaten, unprovoked, with a knife or anything else.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 6:34 p.m.

One of the more bizarre things I've witnessed occurred at a Johnny Rockets diner. I ordered lunch with my kids and witnessed a family (mom, dad, 3 kids) at the next table loudly complaining about the bad service. When their food came, the mom stood up and dumped the drinks and threw the plates of food on the floor and then proceeded to stomp out with the family calmly following behind. When I asked the waitress, who was in tears, why they didn't call the police she said they were all just glad the family had left. I figured the woman was mentally ill which could be the case with this guy as well.

Richard Carter

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

I stopped at the Wendy's at the US-23 Milan? (or was it Dundee?) exit maybe 10 years ago one Friday evening, and it was as if the place had totally lost control. Employees sitting around tables, one even smoking, everyone's orders late, etc., etc. And some big guy turned drama queen apparently hadn't liked his fries, and then came back up to complain about I forget what else (you could tell he just loved drama)... and finally came back with his burger with some other complaint about not enough cheese or something and threw it at the price sign. All that in about the first 30 seconds, when I decided that my fast food dollar was best spent elsewhere.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 8:47 p.m.

wow, kris, my heart goes out to the server who had to endure such horrible treatment. waitstaff don't get paid anywhere near what they should be!


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.

I hope he placed an order to go as well.

Megan Turf

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

I want to know if he cleaned his plate. A problem with the service isn't the same as a problem with the food. If he ate the food, the service doesn't matter. He's not paying for service, he tips for service. He's paying for the food.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 6 p.m.

If the food don't kill you, a customer might.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

We walked out of that restaurant before without paying was after waiting for over 10 minutes for someone to come and take our order. Found a better place to eat.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 11:48 p.m.

That is different -- that is not paying for beverages before eating a meal, and walking out because of reasonable lack of services for what is expected....Its different when you eat a whole meal and just don't feel like paying for it.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 5:18 p.m.

You don't go to Denny's at 3am for good service or good go there because it's open. That and the human circus that sometimes occurs can be rather amusing.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 5:04 p.m.

Hang in there, Thomas; I just posted here a comment agreeing with YOU about your right to agree with Cory - and it, *too*, has been removed. Sigh.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 4:28 p.m.

Gee, whenever I get lousy service I just don't leave a tip or a very small one. How much does this guy think it will cost him now?

Richard Carter

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

Did he eat the food? He was complaining about the service which is what the tip is for.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 5:30 p.m.

won't cost him a thing. free meal meals until he gets out. Our cost, though, hundreds of thousands...

Basic Bob

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

In extreme cases, a complaint to the manager works well. They are usually willing to knock something off the bill. How was he going to pay the cabbie?


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 4:49 p.m.

Excellent point.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

Pay for my meal at dennys? Aint Nobody Got Time For That!

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

Went to Denny's. Ended up getting the Grand Slammer. This story is incomplete without details on what he ordered and ate at Denny's. And I will suggest that if the service or food at 3:45AM Denny's do not meet your expectations, then perhaps you are a bit too lucid to be eating there, at that hour.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

oops, through should be throw, lol


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

The old print version of would always through weird obscure details into their crime reports, like what someone was eating, etc.. Always wondered if a bored staffer did that just for s & g's.

Chester Drawers

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

Nothing good happens at Denny's at 3:45 in the morning!


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 1:28 a.m.

Nothing good EVER happens at Denny's.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

did he get breakfast at the "Hogback Hilton"?