‘It’s not a good time for restaurants’: Another Portland restaurant cleans up after break-in

Published: Oct. 30, 2022 at 10:29 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Yet another Portland break-in on Saturday morning may cost the Stem Wine Bar, a local business, thousands of dollars.

“It’s not a good time for restaurants and bars right now,” said owner Wei-en Tan. “I mean, you see one closing every day.”

Tan said that’s partially because more and more of them are seeing break-ins like the one she had early Saturday morning.

It began when she got a call from her security company when thieves triggered the alarm.

On the phone, they asked, ”Do you want to send the police?” She answered, “Yes, sure.”

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She opened a security video feed and could see the burglars were right there. She was up and ready to go straight away.

“I said, ‘I’m going to go there and see what happens.’”

She arrived to find all sorts of items had been stolen, including cash and iPads.

Also missing was any police presence. Tan said a manager spoke with police on the phone.

“They don’t have anybody nearby,” she said the police told her manager. “But they’ll send someone as soon as they can. I was like, ‘what is this, Grub Hub?’” She said they arrived three and a half hours later. “A lot of people say they’re underfunded, and I’m not trying to blame anybody here, but it seems like there could have been better oversight in a lot of different ways here.”

Between an arsonist who set fire to their new restaurant across town they opened up in early May, and now this, it’s going to cost a couple thousand dollars at least.

“Insurance doesn’t always cover it,” Tan said. “It doesn’t seem like that much in the grand scheme of things, but every dollar counts right now.”

Tan also can’t help but wonder why after the thieves broke in from the back that they had to break in the front door too. She said it could have been just as easily unlocked from the inside. She thinks it’s likely they were “full of rage, or high on drugs and just not realizing who they’re impacting.”

The very night before the break-in, the Stem Wine Bar hosted an event in support of local nonprofit FinAbility, which advocates against domestic violence, and pledged to donate half of their proceeds to them.

FinAbility CEO Stacy Sawin said she “recognizes the margins are thin for restaurants right now, and for someone to take advantage of a small business just 24 hours later is truly awful.”

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Despite frustrations, Tan maintains her smile.

“It’s a pessimistic world right now,” Tan said. “And if you don’t keep an optimistic outlook, I don’t think you’re going to get very far.”

Tan said she hears a lot of people saying that restaurants are on their way back to normal but that’s far from true for local and small ones. She encouraged people to show them their support.