A North Texas attorney has threatened to sue Our Place Restaurant in Mansfield because it ran out of the soup listed on the menu as part of a Saturday special, and then provided no discount or substitutions.
“I don’t want to make a big deal of this,” Dwain Downing told the Star-Telegram on Friday. But he said he believes “it was a wrong and deceptive practice.”
Downing may not have wanted to make it a “big deal,” but then Our Place owner Benji Arslanovski posted Downing’s letter on the restaurant’s Facebook page for all the social media world to see.
Downing, whose website lists offices in Arlington and Mesquite, is asking for $2.25 plus $250 in attorney fees, his hourly rate, he said.
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He notified Arslanovski via certified mail that if he was not compensated for the soup, or if he had not heard from Arslanovski within 10 days, he would sue the restaurateur.
Downing’s letter says that on April 16 he ordered the Saturday special, which was an entree, two sides and soup. Told by a staffer that the restaurant was out of soup, Downing asked for a price reduction or a substitution for the soup. The staffer and then the on-site manager told Downing that it was against the owner’s policy to offer any change or to discount prices.
“The menu is an offer for a contract by you,” Downing’s letter says. “I accepted the offer. This action … created a binding contract which is legally enforceable in a court of law. You then breached the contract by not providing the soup as promised by you on the menu.”
Downing also accused the restaurateur of deceptive trade practices, adding that if Downing is successful in his suit, Arslanovski will be liable for triple damages and attorney’s fees.
“In addition,” Downing’s letter said, “I demand that you change your policy and if you don’t have an item, either offer a substitute side or a reduction in price.”
Arslanovski — whose last name is misspelled in Downing’s letter — said his attorney will send a response letter to Downing on Saturday, but he doesn’t plan on paying up. “I’ll take it to court,” he said.
“Isn’t it amazing?” Arslanovski said. “This could have been solved with a simple phone call, and he could have come by and gotten a free cup of soup.”
On Facebook, Arslanovski wrote that Our Place doesn’t charge for soup — it comes free with meals “while supplies last,” he said.
The post also appears on the restaurant’s website, which has a rail of Facebook posts on its home page. A variety of specials are offered every day for $7.95, with an entree, two sides, rolls and “a cup of our homemade soup.” The “while supplies last” line does not appear on the specials section of the online menu.
The comments on the Facebook post run strongly against Downing, although a couple of people do stick up for him, saying that the restaurant should offer substitutions or discounts if it runs out of items.
Our Place Mansfield opened in 2008, a spinoff of the original Our Place in Burleson, which was opened in 1986 by Arslanovski’s parents. Arslanovski worked in the kitchen of the Burleson restaurant before opening his own location in Mansfield.
According to Downing’s website, he has been practicing law since 1981, with more than 20 years of service in North Texas (he has been quoted in a few Star-Telegram articles, most recently in 2002).
Staff writer Ryan Osborne contributed to this report, which includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.