A copper wiring theft over the weekend in the Greater Grand Crossing area forced the owners of 5 Loaves Eatery and the neighboring Harold’s Chicken Shack location to temporarily close on the 400 block of East 75th Street. The co-owner of 5 Loaves said it’s the fourth time copper wire thieves have struck the building leaving it without power. Constance Simms-Kincaid and her staff discovered the theft early Sunday morning and they made a Facebook announcement later in the day which went viral.
“We pray for the people who think it’s okay to take from those trying to do positive things; and not taking in to account there are people working in these businesses trying to feed their families as well,” the Facebook post reads.
5 Loaves is a South Side neighborhood beacon with a Southern-inspired menu. The prestigious Jean Banchet Awards named it the best ethnic restaurant in 2017. Business had been good for 5 Loaves. Simms-Kincaid was apologetic to anyone who visited Sunday to find 5 Loaves. She has hopes 75th Street can become a South Side restaurant row, but right now, Simms-Kincaid knows the stretch isn’t bustling. Customers make special trips to visit restaurants like 5 Loaves, Lem’s Bar-B-Q and Soul Vegetarian East. Simms-Kincaid feels bad for the after-church crowd or anyone else who left disappointed.
“Your clientele has to trust you to be open whenever you say you’re open,” she said.
Power has since been restored and ownership hopes to be back in business on Tuesday. Copper wiring thieves resell the stolen metal without a care for the small businesses they affect. Cameras recorded the theft, but the thieves had their faces covered. Earlier this year, cameras recorded burglars stealing wiring from Captain’s Hard Times Dining, which is about a half mile south of 5 Loaves. Repairs were estimated at the time to cost between $10,000 to $20,000. The repairs aren’t the only cost, as without electricity for refrigeration, 5 Loaves was forced to throw away food in coolers. They aren’t able to make weekend payroll. This is all while keeping prices affordable for locals.
“It hits you and it hurts,” Simms-Kincaid said.
The expenses really add up for a restaurateur like Simms-Kincaid with ambition. She described plans for 5 Loaves to expand into the neighboring building at the corner of 75th Street and Martin Luther King Drive. It’s a collaboration with the owners of Harold’s. As mentioned, she wants to created a South Side Restaurant Row, and 75th Street recently welcomed Mabe’s Deli to the area. Simms-Kincaid feels the best way to encourage this is to lead by example, and she hopes renovations to the neighboring storefront will do that. She’s already secured a $225,000 matching city grant.
The grant money is great, but it still won’t cover the cost of expansion, Simms-Kincaid said. The community, thieves excluded, have been supportive of her endeavors. But having to shut down the restaurant, even for a few days, is a set back.
“Friendships are really made here at 5 Loaves,” Simms-Kincaid said. “And this is the kind of thing that put a damper on things, but we’re going to stay positive.”
Stay tuned for more on the expansion and when 5 Loaves will reopen.