Welcome to Eater's latest feature, Shit People Steal, in which we ask restaurateurs what items in their restaurant have been (or are frequently) stolen.
Eleven City Diner [Photo: Jason Pickleman]/[Photo: A stolen mug for sale]
Up now on Shit People Steal is Eleven City Diner where, in the handful or so years the South Loop Jewish deli has been open, people have snagged everything from mugs and menus to full sets of salt and pepper shakers and paintings off the bathroom walls. Whether it's returning Columbia College students or people in town for the National Restaurant Show, according to owner Brad Rubin, visitors to the diner seem to have some sticky fingers. Brad emailed Eater to let us know some of the more popular things. Take it away Brad:
You have no idea the shit people steal, literally off the wall (they bring tools): art work from the woman's bathroom walls, art work from the dining room, anything not tied down.
A few notable mind-boggling items [that get taken]:
· A full set of 30 to 40 salt and pepper shakers every September for [the last] five years when the freshman return [to Columbia College]
· During the National Restaurant Show every year without a doubt approximately 20 to 25 percent of our dining room menus are stolen and this only happens during the NRA show. 2011 did not disappoint.
· Back when we opened, my eccentric Jewish mother had wanted badly to decorate the diner. Give it a mother's touch if you will. After most of her fake plastic plants were banished (just days before opening), she only had one option to sneak under my radar: the women's restroom. Perhaps she wanted so badly to "help" decorate the space as if she was setting me up in a college dorm. She had gone to her favorite place to decorate on a budget: Marshalls. She purchased six different little paintings of lipstick holders, powder puffs and cute feminine paintings all in pink (maybe $8 each).
Within in the first two months of being open, four out of the six paintings were stolen, literally unscrewed off the wall. She scoured every Marshalls this side of the Mississippi to replace them, only to have two more stolen two years later. I won't even get started on the small mirrors and toilet paper shelf that are routinely stolen from the women's restroom, too. Now we not only screw in, but also use liquid nails and caulk most new things on the wall.
· In the beginning of the diner's first year, I did not want to sell mugs as I did not think we had street cred and did not want to be like a Hard Rock [Cafe] kind of junk peddler. I was forced to begin to sell mugs as the guests were stealing mugs at about a few dozen each week! Now I'm selling mugs like no one's business, so in a way I'm glad they were stolen. I kid you not, earlier today I received a picture from a friend. It is an original blue diner mug, which we do not sell, for sale on a shelf at the Salvation Army on Broadway and Sheridan for $0.46! Considering that the mugs are sold for $11.00 plus tax that is quite a bargain, but maybe not better than stealing one yourself.