Cherie Howie

Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Whining and dining

Howick local board member Steve Udy. Photo / Natalie Slade
Howick local board member Steve Udy. Photo / Natalie Slade

Politician admits 'over-reaction' after demanding free bottle of wine.

An Auckland politician has admitted making threatening comments about getting a restaurant's liquor licence pulled after being refused a free bottle of wine.

Howick local board member Steve Udy faces a formal complaint, after the incident last week at the Porterhouse Grill, a popular new family-owned restaurant in Pakuranga.

Resident Peter Barclay, who is related to one of the staff, has lodged a complaint with Auckland Council chief executive Stephen Town, demanding Udy be censured for using his position to solicit a gift.

"When this was politely refused by management he became abusive and claimed that because of his position as a Howick board member he had the power to close the restaurant down," the complaint alleges.

Approached last night for comment, Porterhouse Grill owner Adrian Loy confirmed Udy made "serious accusations" against the restaurant as he settled the bill on February 22
"He said, best of luck renewing your liquor licence.

I will remember you."

Loy said the new 140-seat restaurant was unexpectedly busy that night and mains were taking around 40 minutes to arrive at tables. He had approached diners and told them to expect a delay.

Those at Udy's table of four asked if there was going to be a free bottle of wine as compensation but he told them this would not be happening.

When it came time to settle the bill, Loy claimed Udy demanded one of the two bottles of wine purchased that evening be left off his table's bill, as compensation for slow service.

Loy intervened and insisted the Udys settle the bill in full. "I said no, I was avoiding giving out bottles of wine for free because the meals would be taking slightly more time to arrive at tables."

After Udy issued his apparent warning about the renewal of the restaurant's liquor licence, a customer waiting in line reprimanded the elected board member. "There was one customer next to him that told him 'Hey, mate you can't say that'."

Udy returned to the restaurant the next day and apologised for his behaviour.

Asked by the Herald on Sunday last night about the liquor licence renewal comment, Udy said he could not remember his exact words but admitted: "I made a comment that might have been interpreted that way."

He acknowledged the exchange had escalated: "They were very late serving us and I said, can you look after us with something to drink?"

"It was a service issue and it really was a little bit out of proportion ... It was out of proportion in that it was an overreaction on my part, and their part."

Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater, a trenchant critic of the city's local government, said: "This is not the behaviour one expects from elected officials."

He said the behaviour was reminiscent of former National MP Aaron Gilmore, who resigned from Parliament after threatening to get a hotel waiter sacked because he refused to serve him any more wine.

"Like Aaron Gilmore, Steve Udy should apologise and then resign - we don't need bombastic, tinpot little tossers like him in local government."

Porterhouse Grill is a new steakhouse restaurant that opened in Pakuranga Plaza just two months ago. Diners have described it on review sites as a "truly fantastic" steak house with a "lovely and relaxed" ambience.

* Were you at Porterhouse Grill on February 22? Email news@hos.co.nz.

- Herald on Sunday

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