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Cancellation sparks Fawlty-esque rant from napping restaurateur

AN Irish restaurateur went on a Basil Fawlty-type rant when a customer cancelled a booking at short notice, accusing him of disrupting his afternoon nap.

Cormac Keane (34) from Dublin, who runs the upmarket Portofino restaurant in Cape Town, South Africa, was incensed when American fund manager Andrew Fleming cancelled a table for four an hour before the diners were due to arrive.

When he cancelled by phone, Mr Fleming was unaware that staff had come in early to accommodate his party. Mr Keane then rattled off an angry email, which read: "On behalf of all of our staff who came in early to make and serve your food, I would like to thank you for messing their day up and, more seriously, disrupting my afternoon nap. Please do us all a favour and don't ever book a table at my restaurant again."

Mr Fleming replied, saying he was confused by the tone of the email and asking whether Mr Keane was aware the cancellation had been made.


Mr Keane replied: "I had indeed been informed you had cancelled the table an hour before your booking time. Tone remains the same."

Apologising again, Mr Fleming said he was unaware of the special staffing arrangements before saying a senior executive at his firm, the Median Fund, was due to attend but would now be writing to complain.

"Frustrations with restaurant patrons who are unreasonably demanding and inflexible are understandable; anger and hostility towards potential clientele over a reservation cancellation is simply unacceptable, as is your tone and sarcasm that have been used freely in your correspondence," Mr Fleming wrote, sounding very much like Mr Fawlty's long-suffering guests from the famous English comedy.

Mr Keane remained unchastened: "I will try and contain my excitement and await the contribution from 'the CEO of Median Fund Managers'; upon receipt I will pin it up in the bathrooms for customers purusal (sic) while they relieve themselves."

Mr Keane, who went to school at Holy Faith De La Salle in Skerries, said the exchange was all a misunderstanding and a "bit tongue in cheek". "He's American and I don't think he gets sarcasm."

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He said he had invited Mr Fleming to come to dinner to calm things down. But Mr Fleming (24) said he would not be going to Portofino.

Mr Fleming sent emails to friends to warn them off going to Portofino and, from there, the exchange was shared on blogs.

Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Mr Keane said he left Ireland seven years ago and managed Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska's property portfolio in Russia before deciding to enter the restaurant business.

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