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November 30th, 2005 Max Muller | Rogue of the Week
 

El Gaucho

     
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At downtown Portland's swanky El Gaucho, $50 filets mignons come with potatoes (your choice, baked or scalloped). But first place in a $1,000-per-entry pool tournament at the high-end steakhouse doesn't always come with, well, the prize.

And the tourney winner, Sam Sharaf, has given up waiting for El Gaucho, this week's Rogue, to deliver his prize: a year's free use of a Cadillac.

The saga started last April when the steakhouse held its annual, invitation-only, black-tie fundraiser, generating $29,000 for Doernbecher Children's Hospital. The main event in an evening that included $150 dinners and a charity auction was the nine-ball tournament promising a Cadillac to the champion.

Sharaf overcame a first-round loss to go on a hot streak that ended with him calling a four-ball combo off the rail to sink the nine ball for the winning shot. Sharaf's trouble began that night.

He says El Gaucho general manager Franco D'Amico handed him a three-inch purple Post-it note on which to write his contact information, and assured him that the luxury car would come. Sharaf says D'Amico repeated this assurance in a telephone conversation the following week, but never supplied the car.

"I felt disrespected," says Sharaf, who says that D'Amico stopped returning his calls after the first phone conversation. "I felt used."

For his part, D'Amico says, "It's Vic Alfonso that didn't deliver," referring to the Cadillac-Hummer dealership in Northeast Portland. D'Amico claims he had an oral agreement with vice president Kim Alfonso to provide the Caddie. But Alfonso says she never even spoke to D'Amico. And she says her subordinates rejected D'Amico when he approached them about donating a lease.

Regardless of what arrangements D'Amico did or did not make, the Rogue desk thinks a classy joint like El Gaucho, part of the Seattle-based Mackay Restaurants, ought to make good on its word.

 
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