What's the Most Unusual Item That's Been Ripped Off From Your Restaurant?

Categories: Chow Bella

Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where each week Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question or topic New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail laura.hahnefeld@newtimes.com.

Salt and pepper shakers, flatware, tea lights -- restaurants are used to the basics being stolen from their premises -- unfortunately, it's a part of doing business. But what's been lifted when Mr. or Mrs. Sticky Fingers really puts their mind to it? These answers from Valley chefs and restauranteurs may surprise you.

Craig DeMarco Owner, Postino, Windsor, and Churn

The most disappointing things that have been stolen from Postino were two vintage Beastie Boys pictures that were hanging in each restroom. The thief actually cut the back of the frame open, stole the photographs, and then hung the empty frames back up. They will have 100 years of bad karma for that decision!

Aaron May
Chef and Restaurateur

Someone stole the baby handcarved sasquatch from in front of The Lodge. It was part of a little sasquatch family out there and to squatch-nap the baby is just plain wrong.

Kevin Jones Owner, College Dropouts

I had a limited-edition ASU Pat Tillman framed jersey taken off the wall, and the jersey [was] taken out of the case and stolen. Probably the worst thing ever stolen from me, and it's why you screw every picture into the walls if you want to keep the décor!

Patrick Flanigan
Owner, Carmel's Coffee

The strangest thing that's been stolen was a 1960s Pyrex cup that I purchased from Goodwill. On a funny note, we had a homeless man come into our shop one day asking for some water. When we told him that he could grab a cup over by the sweeteners, he took the Tabasco sauce, started drinking it, and then walked out the door with it.

James Porter Executive Chef Petite Maison, Big Earl's BBQ

When we first opened Petite Maison, we were broken into twice in two nights. Oddly enough, the burglar stole cheap rail vodka and Tuaca and left the expensive wine and 70-year-old scotch.

Eric Flatt, Owner Tonto Bar & Grill & Cartwrights Sonoran Ranch House.jpg
Eric Flatt
Co-owner, Tonto Bar & Grill and Cartwright's Sonoran Ranch House

Probably the most surprising was the mother-in-law who dragged her new daughter-in-law to Tonto the day after we hosted their wedding reception to return a jeroboam of wine she'd taken off the shelf. Welcome to the family!

Denny Durbin
Owner, Padre's Modern Mexican Cuisine

We had a woman's bikini tacked on the wall displayed as art and it mysteriously disappeared one night.

Dana Mule
GM and partner, Hula's Modern Tiki

In our inaugural two years in business, we've actually (surprisingly) had four instances where people have stolen our classic tiki art by ripping it right off the walls of both the male and female restrooms. I can't articulate whether I am more saddened by the loss of these irreplaceable artifacts we wanted to share or by the fact that there are people who would take them.

What say you, Valley servers and diners? Has anything out of the norm been taken from your favorite restaurant? Share your thoughts in the comment section. And in case you missed it, check out last week's entry on tipping.

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Back at Trader Vic's, it seemed like anything not nailed down got pilfered at one time or another. I think the most frequently vanishing item was the ceramic pepper shakers. You'd think people would pinch the shakers in sets, but we somehow had a large surplus of salt shakers at the end of the line. The grand prize seemed to be the Moai tissue holders in the bathrooms. Gigantic menus that couldn't possibly fit in a purse, specialty glassware, you name it, someone tried to sneak it out of there at some point or another. I'm a bit surprised nobody ever tried to brazenly swipe the alligator bench in the foyer, or the impressively endowed statue that graced the corner of 69th Street and Indian School.

A tale from Trader Vic's Scottsdale #1 on Fifth Avenue, where Citizen Public House now resides: Out in front was a very large (at least 10 feet tall, take a look at http://critiki.com/pictures/?l... ) faux stone bird statue. It was bulky, and it was pretty heavy, but it was not nearly as heavy as it looked. One day in broad daylight, a couple of miscreants grabbed it, put it in the back of their pickup truck, and drove off. Someone on the crew saw it happen and chased them down, successfully retrieving it in short order. Goodness knows what the guys were going to do with it; the artifact was quite distinctive to say the least.


I wonder if the guy who drank the tabasco at Carmel's is the same crazy bastard that rides his bike up and down the middle of Camelback with red streamers hanging off his back and his helmet?


So wrong...just one word for those thieves "karma".  It can be a bitch.

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