Three armed men yesterday kicked and pistol-whipped the manager of Beefsteak Charlie's downtown restaurant, robbing him and a fellow employe of just under $270 before fleeing.

Undaunted -- and unarmed -- the manager, a former Iranian Army officer, gave chase, capturing an armed suspect minutes later near the Russian Embassy on 16th Street.

Late yesterday, after being released from Georgetown Hospital, the manager, Hossein Pahlavani, 29, was still angry: while he had been in the hospital, the man he had caught had been released without bail from D.C. Superior Court.

"I don't believe it," said Pahlavani, manager of the restaurant at 1511 K St. NW. "If they do that . . . I'm going to talk to my lawyer right now. I am so upset."

According to Pahlavani, shortly after 8 a.m., three men surprised him and Maria Valaquez, a kitchen worker, as they were preparing for the lunchtime opening. Pahlavani said the men forced him and Valaquez to lie on the carpeted restaurant floor and demanded money.

When Pahlavani and Valaquez turned over $252 and $15 respectively, he said, one of the men began kicking and beating him on the head, demanding he open the safe.

Pahlavani said that the men ran out when he convinced them he did not know the combination. Thanks to his training in the army of the late shah, Pahlavani said, "I am not afraid."

The suspect, Aaron Bowman, 35, of 615 M St. NE, was charged with armed robbery and, in accordance with customary court procedure, was released on personal recognizance pending arraignment next week in Superior Court, police said.