outback steakhouse

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Man fakes getting stood up at Outback Steakhouse

This man's Outback scam was funny, but was it also manipulative?


David Britton

Internet Culture

Posted on Feb 15, 2019   Updated on May 20, 2021, 6:59 pm CDT

“I mean there can’t be a sadder image than a guy in a suit at Outback Steakhouse alone on Valentine’s Day, sitting across from an untouched decanter of white wine,” a man named Stephen Bonser tweeted live from an Outback restaurant yesterday.

Truly it was a sad scene. Bonser, dressed up in a suit, ordering wine and leaving voice messages for a date who would never arrive. But it was all a fake. Earlier in the day, Bonser tweeted: “If I went to Outback Steakhouse by myself tonight and asked for a table for 2, then got progressively sadder as the night went on alone, do you think they’d give me my steak for free?”

Encouraged by his followers, and a sister who said she’d pay for his meal if his plan didn’t work, Bonser decided to try out his experiment and he chronicled the whole thing live on Twitter.

He got dressed up and reserved a table for two at the Outback Steakhouse in Arlington, Virginia.

He ordered himself a beer and some wine for this “date”. He then pretended to leave her a voicemail, saying he was at the restaurant.

As the minutes rolled by, things got progressively sadder and Bonser started getting concerned looks from the couples around him.

Finally, with the kitchen closing soon, Bonser ordered some food and left another, even sadder fake voicemail, where he expressed concern for this “date,” who he named Katherine.

Finally, as the restaurant was about to close, Bonser’s plan succeeded in an expected way. Instead of Outback comping his meal, another couple offered to pay for it.

“Hey, bud, we’ll take care of that,” the man said, according to Bonser’s interview with the Washington Post. “Sorry about that. Don’t let it get you down.”

Obviously feeling guilty, Bonser donated $50 to the ACLU to try and balance out his karma.

Bosner then boxed up his ill-gotten gains and took off,  leaving a $20 tip for the waiter. Assuming his bill was around $50, this would have been approximately double the standard 20% gratuity.

The Valentine’s shenanigans have now gone viral with the story receiving thousands of retweets and likes.


ACLU donations and 40% tips aside, a few people felt that Bonser’s little prank crossed the line, and many pointed out that the server would have made more money flipping the table a few times and getting more customers.



As far as Outback itself is concerned, they clearly approved of the ruse, or at least the free publicity it brought them. They reached out to Bonser via their official Twitter account, offering him two more free meals if he feels like actually bringing a date in.

Now all he needs to do is find a date who thinks his story is funny instead of manipulative. With any luck, she might even be named Katherine.

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*First Published: Feb 15, 2019, 3:03 pm CST