When Graham Elliot Bistro opened over a year ago, one of the most talked-about features in the "church-meets-rock" theme was the saint candles with rock stars and chefs (such as Slash holding a baby Jesus that's actually Axl Rose). Apparently the public agreed, as the candles started disappearing soon after the restaurant opened.
"We had this nice little display backdrop of the candles," corporate executive chef Merlin Verrier says. "Once a week we would notice one or two was missing."
Verrier estimates that 60-70 percent of the original stock is gone, with the original number of 200 dropping to roughly 60. The candles are now endangered and Verrier estimates that they might disappear completely within three-to-four months.
Restaurant management has taken steps to combat the thefts. They started glueing them down, but thieves can still remove them "with a little force."
"It got to the point that instead of looking disorganized we had to unglue them and move them back together so they were equally dispersed," Verrier says. "They used to be about an inch apart and now they're 12 inches apart."
They're also relying on the guilty conscience of the thieves. "We received a package with no return address. We opened the box and there's a note that said, 'was drunk, took this, sorry' and it was a Kurt Cobain candle. Someone felt so guilty about it that they sent it back."
Restaurant management has never caught anyone in the act. Each candle costs between $2.50 and $3 to make, and Verrier estimates a $10 street value. Keep an eye on ebay or Craigslist for thieves attempting to cash in on the possible 300 percent profit.
Whether for resale or personal use, Verrier understands why someone would want them. "You have all these people that people are obviously huge fans of and you get a couple cocktails in somebody and they feel like they should own that candle," he says.
If they disappear completely, they probably won't be gone for long. Verrier says they'll order a second round of candles with different characters soon. But, at this rate, how long will those last as well?
· Graham Elliot Shares "Saint Candle" Designs for G.E.B. [-ECHI-]
· All Graham Elliot Bistro Coverage [-ECHI-]
· Graham Elliot Bistro [Official Site]