A group of 120 diners celebrating a baptism fled a restaurant without paying the bill, the owner has claimed. The incident took place at the El Carmen restaurant in Bembibre, north-west Spain.

Local newspapers have reported that the group were Romanian citizens.

They had paid a deposit of €900 (£775, $948), but left owner Antonio Rodriguez with a €2,000 hole to fill with their dine and dash.

The group are said to have fled as dessert was due to be served. The party had consumed starters, main courses and guzzled 30 bottles of alcohol.

"It happened in the space of a minute," Rodriguez was quoted as saying by the BBC. "It was something they had planned and they left in a stampede."

The restaurateur said he had reported the incident to the police, but had little hope of being paid for his culinary services. Police told El Pais newspaper that they are trying to contact the diners, but have not had any luck thus far.

The Spanish authorities added that while there was little that staff could have done to prevent the group from leaving en masse in their cars, they did manage to get the registration of some vehicles to put police on the right track.

During his 35 years in the restaurant business, Rodriguez said he had never seen anything else like this.

According to recent reports, it has emerged that the same group has a history of not paying for its food. The Local reported that the same group of family and friends is suspected to have done a runner during a wedding celebration earlier this year.

That incident is reported to have taken place at a restaurant called El Rincón de Pepín in nearby Ponferrada. On that occasion, the group is said to have fled the establishment just before coffee was served, leaving an unsettled bill of more than €10,000.

"They had made a reservation for 100 but there was close to 200 people present," one worker said. "Just after eating their desserts when I was on my way to make coffee, they all upped and left."