Burger burglars


When businesses get burgled, the first thing thieves usually go for is the cash drawer. But a couple of thefts on West Main Street have the business owners and the cops scratching their heads.

Late Friday night or early Saturday morning, August 2 or 3, beef bandits wielding bolt cutters broke into the walk-in refrigerator and freezer behind Southern Culture restaurant and made off with hundreds of dollars worth of meat products.

"They took baby back ribs, pork ribs, steak, andouille sausage," says the restaurant's general manager, Paul Lippmann.

Fortunately, says Lippman, other area restaurants helped out by sharing extra food, so Southern Culture was able to open as usual on Saturday. Lippmann says the security system that protects the building proper including the cash insidewill soon extend to protect the exterior coolers as well.

But Southern Culture was not the first victim of the meat marauder.

Sometime between the night of July 12 and the morning of July 13, Continental Divide– just a hop, skip, and jump down West Main– was burgled in similar fashion.

"They took a couple of cases of beer and some meat," says Continental owner Duffy Pappas, who also owns the South Street Brewery. Pappas was not aware of any leads in the case, but says he has taken steps (though he declined to elaborate) to prevent such a burglary from happening again.

Though Southern Culture's Lippmann didn't think a serious investigation was under way, Sgt. David Jones in the Charlottesville Police Patrol Division disagrees. The crime at Continental Divide has already been assigned to an officer, and Southern Culture soon will be, he tells Dish. The officers assigned to each case will stay on the meat beat until the case is solved.

Lippmann says he hopes the public will keep their eyes open for anyone who seems to have suddenly come into a large quantity of meat.

"Someone was barbequeing this weekend," he says.


Up in flames?

 As Dish headed home on Friday night, August 2, we noticed that the traffic leaving downtown seemed heavier than usual. But when we lurched to a sudden standstill on High Street, just before Jak and Jill, we glimpsed a sight that chilled us even in the 100-degree weather.

Several fire trucks, an ambulance, and a couple of police cars sat in front of the tiny High Street Steak and Grill, and firefighters in full equipment swarmed the spot there were even a couple up on the roof.

Though the building was still standing, we feared the interior could have been gutted by flames, a la Sam's Kitchen a few years back or the Chiang House just last March.

But by Saturday, not a bit of damage could be seen. So what happened?

"Our A/C was smoking," says High Street owner Rick Thomas, whom we reached a few days later. So there was no fire? No damage?

"Nope; nothing burned," he says.

As for the massive turnout by local emergency personnel, Thomas says, "I thanked them all."

"They pulled the breakers on it," he explains, and by the next day the A/C was up and running. Cool.

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