Collections Dept.: Frequently Stolen Items from Valley Bars and Restaurants

Leah LeMoineJanuary 9, 2023
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“Please Stop Stealing Stuff from Restaurants,” entreated the headline of a November 2022 Food & Wine digital article by Darron Cardosa. The restaurant industry vet, who writes under The Bitchy Waiter shingle, spoke for hospitality staff worldwide in his incisive analysis of entitled diners and anecdotes about customers’ audacious thievery. Here in the Valley, the problem is pervasive. “We always joke about the random crap that people steal from us,” says Josh Katz, owner of TruColor Concepts (36 Below, The Rose Garden, Sip Coffee & Beer). “Vases, flowers, glasses… paper towel holders out of the bathroom.” We chatted with Katz and a cadre of other local restaurateurs about their most-stolen items. Don’t get any ideas, pilferers – they’re onto you.

Recreo

The disappearance of this Chandler hot spot’s cactus ceramic mugs (a 2022 Best of the Valley winner) was the inspiration for this roundup. Alas, thanks to sticky fingers, they are no more. “Unfortunately, the recent cost increases on some of our specialty glasses made it unaffordable to replace them,” owner Niels Kreipke says. “However, we will be bringing in new glasses that are just as playful.”

Photo by James Deek
Photo by James Deek
Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Maple & Ash 

At this Scottsdale steakhouse and its sister restaurant etta, customers are allowed to pocket one item: reusable straws. “Our custom metal straws are specially designed for each restaurant with clever and flirty lines,” marketing manager Rudé van Eck says. “Guests love taking them home, which we’re totally fine with – it has turned into a signature ‘moment’ for our restaurants.”

Phoenix City Grille

Pepper mills and silverware are commonly stolen from this North-Central eatery. “Copper drink mugs are also quick to walk out,” owner Sheldon Knapp says. “Also glasses with our logo” like this Glencairn whiskey glass, which the restaurant will happily sell to you for $12.

Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
36 Below

“We have a note on our menus to say you must give us an ID or a shoe as a deposit for specialty cocktails,” owner Josh Katz says. “It’s kind of a joke, and servers have fun with it” to prevent bargoers from filching fanciful glassware shaped like mushrooms, elephants and bees.

Linger Longer Lounge

The retro touches at this 16th Street watering hole resonate so much with some guests that they feel entitled to take them home. The most-purloined items? Vintage ashtrays.

Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Photo courtesy Liberty Station
Photo courtesy Liberty Station
Liberty Station

At the DC Ranch location of this American tavern, tiki mugs go missing “anytime we have tiki night, and every so often, as we always have a tiki drink on the menu,” owner Matt Keeler says. Moscow mules also grow legs on the reg.

The Rose Garden 

At this pretty Downtown sister concept to 36 Below, each check is delivered in a box shaped like a book, with a gold pen and a peacock feather. “People steal all of it,” Katz says.

Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
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