Lance Zierlein had an eventful dinner at Riel restaurant on Friday, November 9. As he related during a segment on The Bench, the morning show on ESPN 97.5 he co-hosts with John Granato, Zierlein observed chef-owner Ryan Lachaine and general manager Nicholas Nguyen get in heated argument with a customer who entered the restaurant already intoxicated — and became irate when the restaurant refused to serve him alcohol (Both ESPN 97.5 and CultureMap are owned by Gow Media).
The story has a number of twists and turns, including the man’s wife slapping him, the man throwing a punch at Lachaine, and ultimately being arrested by the Houston Police Department, who had to hogtie him when he wouldn’t stop banging his head against the patrol car windows. Listen above for the whole tale.
Lachaine tells CultureMap that Zierlein told an accurate version of what happened Friday night. “It was like an hour-and-a-half episode of COPS,” the chef says.
“I’ve never gotten into an altercation with a customer,” Lachaine says. “We’ve asked people to leave. They’re not always happy, but they usually take off. Not this guy.”
He also credits the Houston Police Department for arriving within five minutes of the restaurant’s call for help. “The guys from HPD did an awesome job. What that guy was doing and what he was saying — they were pros. They handled it very well,” he says.
Lachaine says they’ve determined the person’s identity, but he declined to name him publicly. Perhaps the most incredible thing occurred the next morning.
“[His wife] calls the restaurant the next day [to ask] where we towed her car.” Lachaine says. “[I said], ‘He left it running with the doors open in the middle of the street. I didn’t tow it. The cops towed it.’”
Lachaine says he can laugh about it now, but the man’s violent, unpredictable behavior made for a scary situation, particularly when he tried to punch his way through a locked door to reenter the restaurant.
“I don’t want five cop cars in front of my restaurant on Friday night,” Lachaine says. “The restaurant business is hard enough. People left. They were scared. I don’t blame them.”
Thankfully, no one was hurt in skirmish. In his younger days, Lachaine played amateur hockey at a serious level. He can take a punch. And he no longer has to contemplate when asked about the craziest thing that’s happened at his restaurant.