The timing couldn’t have been worse.
Only a day or two after the province issued a public health order on March 29 prohibiting indoor dining at restaurants for three weeks, but allowing patio service and takeout, a thief reportedly stole an outdoor patio heater from a White Rock restaurant.
Barrique Kitchen and Wine Bar (15223 Pacific Ave.) owner Josiah Tam said he bought the patio heater about a week before it was stolen. The heater, which cost him $400, was a small-scale design that was suitable for a section of the patio that comes to a slope.
Peace Arch News contacted Tam after learning about the theft on social media, where Barrique Kitchen posted a message to the person who stole the heater.
“To the low life that stole one of our patio heaters on the weekend: A) Real bad timing. B) Hope you needed it more than we do right now,” the message said.
Tam said he discovered the heater was missing after returning to work Monday morning. While the business has surveillance cameras, they malfunctioned. Tam said he has not yet filed a police report.
“For what those are worth, and not having any surveillance video, I didn’t bother,” Tam said of the decision not to report the theft.
Wednesday, Tam said he tried to purchase another heater of the same size.
“They’re all sold out,” he said, adding that the new public health order has put pressure on patio heating equipment availability.
The theft adds insult to injury in what has already been a challenging time for the restaurant industry.
Monday afternoon, Dr. Bonnie Henry issued a public health order suspending indoor adult fitness, indoor dining, and indoor church services, in what she called a “circuit breaker,” following a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases. The rule was to go info effect midnight March 29 and extends to April 19.
“That morning we had sent out an email to our email list saying that we’re going to go back to being open five days a week for dine-in service in the dining room and patio,” Tam said.
“The time that we put in menu planning and setting up systems for that alone was just a hit.”
“I have put a lot of hours into that over the past two weeks and so has my team.”
For the time being, Tam said Barrique will return to its takeout fried chicken menu and is looking at doing a mix of takeout days and patio days.
The small kitchen in Barrique, he added, puts a limit on what they can do.
“To do a full robust takeout program as well as a full patio dine-in program at the same time is almost impossible for us,” Tam said.
Shortly after alerting customers about the stolen heater, Barrique posted another message on social media. This message was targeted to its customers.
“Blown away by community support over the past 24 hours,” the message read.