Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Aug 26, 2002 06:03 PM

Stealing stuff from Bay Area restaurants

  • j

I'm writing a story for Diablo Magazine and wondering if anyone out there can help me out. I'm writing about customers taking off with items from restaurants--salt and pepper shakers, ashtrays, table ornaments, wine bottles, paintings, etc. Has anyone ever ran off with a little "souvenir" from a local restaurant?

Thanks, Jon

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If you can get the people who are assigned to special events at Farallon to talk to you, they can tell you about how they decorate their private dining room for xmas every year and within days (or sometimes a single dinner) every ornament has been stolen.

    This is about as extreme as I have ever heard as far as patron pilfering.

    Of course, there is the occasional person who walks out without paying the bill, the ultimate act of theft that a diner can commit, I suppose. And those who don't tip could be seen as darn near stealing the service of the wait staff.

    Good luck with the article. Be sure to credit in it or the harpies will flame you for sure.

    1. People steal paintings from restaurants?

      Probably not a lot of ashtrays these days. I do miss the matchbooks (not the cigarettes), but that's marketing rather than kleptomania.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Windy

        Believe it or not, but people really do steal paintings, and prints, and other decor elements from restaurants...the bathrooms are the most popular pilfering spots, apparently. Who are these people???

        1. re: Jon

          Probably the same people that read Chowhound and do not bother to pay for the subscription!

        2. re: Windy

          I take you read (or got your article idea from) that article that recently ran in the New York Times?

        3. For purposes of this one thread, users are invited to use an alternative nametag if they'd like to make sordid confessions without disclosing their usual names (switching of nametags under other cicrcumstances is against our rules)

          2 Replies
          1. re: The Chowhound Team

            Well, I do have a nice collection of shrimp cocktail forks I have taken from various restaurants. Also I can't seem to resist those cute soup spoons - we call them "shovel spoons". I have not taken anything for years and my husband used to think it was awful. Just the forks and spoons - I con't imagine how you could steal something as big as a painting - but don't tell me! Would hate to acquire that habit.

            1. re: Ashamed

              Sorry to come into this topic so late in the venue, but for one, isn't this the wrong topic for this spot (??) and two, how can anyone find this a serious topic of interest?

              Would you steal something from your friends home after dinner? How about a nice all cotton, hand-woven, naturally died napkin from Crate & Barrel? What the hell? To be honest, most folks should do a cruise through a restaurant supple store (most are open to the public) to see what these "had to have" items cost.

              All jollies & fun aside, this is industry. This is truth in business & pleasure. All that amounts to who's at each end & we really should think about that at least a little. It adds up.

          2. I like to collect glasses from Brew Pubs, particularly with their logo on it. The irony is, the last one I snagged was subsequently stolen from me...

            1. I am quite experienced at taking salt and pepper shakers from restaurants. I have a collection from about 20 different places at home. I can't help it, particularly if they're interesting shakers. I've even gotten my friends in on helping me swipe them sometimes.

              We try to be covert, maybe sneaking one shaker into one person's pocket at a time. Once, at a place in Palo Alto, my partner had snagged the salt shaker from the table, then went to use the restroom. While he was gone, the waiter came up and asked if we were missing a salt shaker -- I almost pissed my pants, convinced we were caught and would spend the next 10 years in the slammer. Thankfully, he just apologized and replaced it. Then we sneakily took the pepper shaker.

              I also have been known to take some of those little bowls used for serving grated cheese, sauces, etc. in.

              Oh, and we did take a nice steak knife from someplace once.

              In the rest of my life, I'm not a kleptomaniac. Truly. It's just a restaurant thing.

              1 Reply
              1. re: NoOneYouKnow

                Trust me on this...when one "liberates" something from a restaurant, more often than not the waitstaff are well aware of it. If you think for a minute that that waiter didn't know you stole the shaker, you are amusingly naive.