Dine and Dash

Santa Fe restaurant manager says Gov. Susana Martinez skipped out on bill

A girl's gotta eat, right? But shouldn't she pay for it?

The general manager of a Santa Fe eatery says Gov. Susana Martinez paid the restaurant a visit today, then left without paying her bill.

Robert Gonzales, who's been GM of Five Star Burgers near De Vargas Mall for about four months, tells SFR that at first he didn't recognize Martinez when she arrived in a black SUV, then placed a to-go order of a bison burger and fried green beans.

"I thought she was an Action 7 News anchor person or something like that … I was like, 'What's the name on that?' And she's like, 'Susana!' and looked right at my face. It was hilarious. It was actually kind of funny," says Gonzales.

The governor drank a glass of water while she waited, he says, but when he delivered the bill for her order, she did something he did not find amusing.

"She grabs it off the bar, crumples it up and throws it in the trash," he says, "I thought to myself 'She is not going to pay for this. She is not gonna try.'"

A patron who was eating nearby and witnessed the incident on Wednesday afternoon says she was taken aback by the governor's behavior.

"I feel like someone in a position of power, especially in this city and state, should not act like that. That sense of entitlement—you claim to be for the working man but you dine and dash on a local business like that—it's just appalling," says Sarah, who didn't want to use her last name because she works for the government as a first responder.

Gonzales says he would normally file a police report if he had enough information about someone who skipped a bill, but in this case, he didn't bother to call about an unpaid tab worth less than $15.

"I know us taxpayers are probably going to be paying for it anyway," he says. "I served [former governor Bill] Richardson for a while, like in The Compound back in the day, and they always paid and they always tipped well, but she did not even tip me. She just marched right out. She crumpled it up like it was none of her damn business."

The owner of Five Star Burgers, Robert Gontram of Taos, gave $100 to Diane Denish's campaign for governor in 2010, according to online campaign finance filings. Denish lost that race to Martinez.

The governor's communications office did not immediately return a request for comment. It wasn't until after a spokesman named Joseph Cueto gave a statement to a television news channel late Wednesday night, and after SFR reiterated our request, that we received an email stating that the governor had paid for the meal and the incident was "super-sized nothing burger" and at the same time "an obviously honest misunderstanding."

SFR asked for clarification about governor's version of events, including when she paid. We'll update the story if we get a further response. Matt Grubs contributed reporting

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