AMHERST COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) – An Amherst County restaurant owner is hoping to stay open following an early-morning break-in.
Gabe’s Restaurant Owner John Smith tells WFXR shock quickly turned into heartbreak, as he watched the security footage of a person sneaking through the front door.
Smith says his four-month-old business was just hitting its stride but is now stopped in his tracks while the Amherst County Sheriff’s Office and his insurance company investigate.
“When I got here, I found that my cash register had been broken into, change was everywhere…” Smith said.
He explains that, around 12:50 a.m. Saturday, someone snuck into his restaurant, breaking into the register, taking a painting, at least $100 in hamburger and pulled pork, and his peace of mind.
“It hurts a lot,” he said. “And, um, I- I just don’t know. I just wanted to cry.”
He says the person hid his/her face, and immediately unplugged the security cameras, staying until almost 4:30 a.m.
“So they knew the cameras were here, so it’s somebody that is familiar with the store,” he said.
He says Saturday is typically the busiest day of his 100-hour week, but that he can’t fill orders without a register, and that he’ll struggle to keep up with catering in the meantime.
“Just unfortunate that this happened, it really knocked the wind out of me,” he said. “We hope to survive, we hope to come back – but if not, I know we did everything we could to survive.”
Smith says worst of all, he’s a veteran who makes a point to help other vets and people in need. He points to his full “Pay it Forward” board, where anyone looking for a meal can redeem a pre-paid receipt, no questions asked.
“Why? Why. If you needed money, if you needed something to eat, I would have [given] it to you. You didn’t have to do this,” he said.
Smith says he hopes to continue making home-cooked meals for the Madison Heights area, and appreciates the support he’s gotten so far.
“We’re appreciative here at gabe’s, we really are. We know that we’re loved in this community, and hopefully we can find this guy and stop this,” he said.
Smith tells WFXR he wasn’t able to make out the type of car the person drove up in.
If you have any information, you’re asked to call the Amherst County Sheriff’s Office.