Chicago man who tried to force boisterous restaurant patrons to pay for his meal at gunpoint gets 10-year sentence

CHICAGO — It started as a tasty Saturday night dinner at a popular West Town seafood spot. But officials say a group of rowdy tourists dining at another table sent a Chicago man down a path that has now ended with a ten-year prison sentence.

Everything was going great for the tourists, visiting from Michigan and Ohio, as they dined with a table of friends on the second floor of Alegrias Seafood, 1024 North Ashland, on May 1, 2021. But at a nearby table, prosecutors say, Claudious Payne was not happy about their enthusiasm.

Payne, 32, approached the table and told the group they were being loud and disrespectful, prosecutors said. He then complained to a manager, who spoke with the tourists’ table. But the group partied on, and Payne ordered a man at the table to pay for his family’s dinner. At one point, Payne became so angry he flipped a large tray filled with seafood onto the man.

And then the prison-y stuff began.

Prosecutors said Payne lifted his shirt to display a handgun in his waistband. As diners tried to calm him down, he pulled the gun from his pants line and pistol-whipped one of the tourists in the face, prosecutors said.

At that point, another member of the tourists’ party took out their own credit card and asked Payne to follow him to the cashier so he could pay for the Payne family’s meal, prosecutors said. Surveillance video allegedly showed Payne following the man to the register with a gun in his hand.

Police, alerted by a 911 caller who begged them to get to the restaurant before someone got shot, arrested Payne about a block away. But cops never found a gun. Prosecutors said the victims identified Payne as the offender. They said almost all of the events were captured on the restaurant’s surveillance recordings.

Claudious Payne (inset) and some of the offerings at Alegrias Seafood. | CPD; Yelp

“This is what they take from visiting our city,” Judge Arthur Willis sighed upon hearing the allegations during Payne’s initial bail hearing. “This is what they get.”

Now, Payne has pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted armed robbery and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. Judge Kenneth Wadas handed him the 10-year sentence for the robbery attempts and a concurrent 3-year term for the gun charge.

Prosecutors dropped a handful of other felonies, including an escape from electronic monitoring case that Payne picked up while the matter was pending.

After receiving a 50% sentence reduction for good behavior and credit for time served in jail and on an ankle monitor, he is expected to be released on June 23, 2026.

Payne’s situation was made more tenuous by his criminal background, which included seven previous felony convictions, primarily for retail theft, along with a burglary case and two narcotics matters.

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