Italian restaurant may sue after Clinton fails to honour booking

WHEN the owner of one of Rome's most fashionable restaurants received a booking from Bill Clinton and his entourage, he was happy to clear the tables and order in his best food and wine.

But Romeo Caraccio was left furious after the former president of the United States and his party failed to show up without bothering to cancel their reservation.

Now the owner of the Michelin-starred Agata e Romeo restaurant is considering claiming compensation for lost takings after the high-profile no-show.

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The restaurant, which is popular with visiting celebrities, had been called by one of the former president's staff requesting a table for 18. The delighted owner cleared away a corner of his dining room and ordered in more than 1,000 worth of extra food and wine for his VIP guest and entourage.

However, an hour after the 1:30pm reservation there was still no sign of Mr Clinton, who was in Rome as part of a week-long visit promoting links between Africa and Europe.

Yesterday, a waiter at the restaurant said: "We had a call from one of his security team making the reservation and then a visit to check out the place.

"It was all confirmed and the boss even ordered in more food and wine - he spent an extra 1,000, but he [Clinton] never turned up.

"The boss was furious as he didn't even have the decency to cancel. When he called the security guard to find out what was happening he said 'change of plan' and just put the phone down."

Last night, Mr Caraccio said: "The story is true, but I don't really want to comment any further.

"We were expecting Mr Clinton, but he never arrived and he didn't even cancel his reservation."

Last night, a US embassy spokeswoman in Rome confirmed that the booking had been made, but said it was not a matter for the embassy.

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"I can confirm that Mr Clinton was due to eat at the restaurant.

"However, he had to pull out and was not able to attend. I don't know why; he is a private citizen," the spokesman said.

"We are also aware that the owner is very upset and is looking for compensation, but there is nothing we can do about that."

Mr Clinton is said to have heard about the restaurant after meeting the Michelin Guide 's New York correspondent, Fabio Parasecoli.

Mr Clinton's visit to Rome was the second in just over a month - he visited the Eternal City in April when he came for Pope John Paul II's funeral.

At the time, Mr Clinton had promised the city's mayor, Walter Veltroni, that he would make a return visit and this time he stayed for a week.

He and his entourage took over several rooms and suites at the Hotel De Russie close to the famous Piazza del Popolo.

Besides speaking at several events, Mr Clinton also took in the famous Roma sights such as the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps.

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But he was thwarted in his attempts to visit Rome's most famous sight, the Colosseum, as he arrived just after closing time and, despite pleas from his entourage, officials refused to reopen the site.