NEWBURYPORT — A Cambridge man apparently took the phrase picking up women in a bar too literally Sunday night, when he allegedly lifted a female manager of the Mission Oak Grill off the ground after being caught eating the hamburger of a patron sitting next to him at the bar. 

Robert N. Howard, 27, appeared embarrassed as he stood handcuffed in Newburyport District Court yesterday upon his arraignment for assault and battery and disorderly conduct.

He is due back in court Dec. 17, for a pretrial hearing. As part of his release conditions, Howard must stay away from the Green Street restaurant.

According to the report of Newburyport police Officer Michael Wilichoski, at around 6:30 p.m. Sunday police responded to the Mission Oak Grill after receiving word that a patron was being disorderly. Upon entering, the female manager told police that an intoxicated Howard had picked her off the ground after asking him to leave.

Poaching a burger

The manager told police that Howard ordered a beer at the bar and after a few sips reached over and began eating the hamburger and fries off the plate of a female patron sitting next to him. Noticing his unruly behavior, the bartender asked Howard to pay his tab and leave.

“Mr. Howard refused and continued eating the hamburger and french fries,” Wilochoski wrote in his report.

After being alerted to Howard’s behavior, the manager told him that his behavior was unacceptable and ordered him to leave. Howard looked at her and continued to eat the other patron’s meal. That prompted the manager to call 911.

“According to (the victim), Mr. Howard stepped towards her, bent down and grabbed her by the right leg and attempted to lift her over his shoulder. (The victim) was able to twist her leg free and step back away. Several patrons who observed Mr. Howard’s behavior walked over to assist (the victim),” Wilichoski wrote in his report.

‘Never cooperate’

Upon speaking to police, Howard was escorted out of the restaurant by police and brought to the station for booking. 

At the station, Howard was uncooperative during the booking process and allegedly told Sgt. William Steeves that “I will never cooperate,” according to Wilichoski’s report. 

Mission Oak Grill, which bills itself as an American steakhouse, is located across the street from City Hall and within a block of the Newburyport Police Department.

Staff Writer Dave Rogers can be reached at