Christmas Eve is a night typically spent with family. Most of us pass the time relaxing over a long meal, enjoying the company of our loved ones, counting our many fortunes and generally engaging in a lot of merriment. Back in 2005, we were happily working through our very first Christmas season. We were the new place to be in Dublin, putting in long hours and late nights, but enjoying every minute of it. As we all know, the run up to Christmas is exhausting, but even more so for restaurant employees, so we were very happy to lock up on Christmas Eve and head home to our families. Little did we know, there were a couple of villains in town with plans of their own that did not include a quiet night in front of the fireplace. They let themselves in, relieved us of thousands of euro worth of food and drinks, and then came back the next night for Christmas dinner. When the opening staff returned to work after their well deserved break they were in for a bit of a shock, to say the least. Here’s what happened:
Imagine you’re on George’s Street on Christmas Eve; there’s a familiar winter chill in the air, the Christmas lights are twinkling and swaying in a gentle breeze. By now, nearly everywhere is closed. The city is a ghost town, and the few people you do see are rushing to get to somewhere else, barely noticing what’s going on around them. It’s the perfect setting for a burglary. You’ve been pacing up and down the street for the better part of the night, so you’re sure now is the right moment. After an unwatched turn into the back alley you’re confident no one is around to see what you’re doing, but still your heart is pumping hard enough to put you off balance. The back door doesn’t take too much work, just a few good kicks and you’re in. The alarm doesn’t sound; it’s as if the place was meant to be robbed, you think as you step inside and take it all in. The chairs are turned on top the tables, and aside from the faint glow of the computer screens, the room is utterly lifeless. It’s strange to be inside of an empty restaurant; come to think of it; so few ever see the building in this state. Anyway, that’s a thought for another time. Back to the goods- there’s a serious amount of stuff up for grabs and all you have to do is reach out and take it. The tills are straight ahead, welcoming you in, but the staff are smart, there’s nothing to take out here in the open. You peer through the long room and spy another door. Perhaps this one will promise more spoils, you think as you make your way across the room. A few sharp kicks and you’re in. First, the main office, next, the wine store. You make a few hasty trips in and out with as much booze as you can carry, but there’s only so much two men can take. It would be a shame to waste this opportunity, and the restaurant is so warm and inviting, why not make a quick trip back in the morning?
You walk up slowly, a bit more cautious than before. A lot could have happened in the night, and it might have been greedy to come back. But as you approach you see the door is still propped open with the piece of cardboard you ripped off one of the boxes of wine. It’s such an inviting sight. You sigh, luck really is on my side. Still, your adrenaline is through the roof, encouraging you to enter cautiously. After just a few paces in you sense something is different. Yes, things were rushed last night, but you don’t remember the place looking quite like this. You’re afraid, but you fear is overridden by curiosity. If anyone had noticed, surely by now it would have been all over the news and the street would be teeming with Gardi. You’re trying to be logical, but your heart is pounding once more. And faster than you’ve moved before, you turn to the sound of another man’s voice- no, two men. They’re so ardently debating the best way to cook steak, they mustn’t have heard you come in. It’s a conversation you don’t expect to hear, and it tempts to listen for another moment. Just a few seconds are enough to determine you’re not dealing with the authorities. But who would be cooking an impromptu Christmas dinner in here?
After a few short minutes you’re all friends. Two gentlemen of itinerant persuasion looking through the back alley from some shelter noticed the door slightly ajar and decided to help themselves to an open restaurant. Can’t really blame them, can we? More importantly, they’re about to overcook the steaks, and stolen or no, you don’t want a charred Christmas Dinner. Before you know it, you’re all in the kitchen together, preparing a feast, the bill for which Brasserie66 will foot. A few jolly bottles of wine and three courses later, you’re all stuffed and ready to hit the road- but not without fleecing the last few bottles of wine you weren’t able to carry last night. This time, you opt to close the door. One final look back, and you set off down the ally way. Merry Christmas, Brasserie66, and Happy New Year!
It’s a story that you might imagine was dreamt up for some sensational prank to play on the owner or the manager. But it happened here on South Great George’s Street, one of the busiest areas of Dublin city centre, and we were none the wiser until days later. The staff returned to work like normal after their short break to find the restaurant looking a bit rougher than they’d left it, but they were shocked to find the doors smashed through and tills torn apart.
The roads most definitely would have been deserted, the population at large warm in their homes. But quiet streets or not, the two original burglars knew what they were doing. They entered through the gates to the back alley way, knowing once they were through it would be impossible for any Good Samaritan to spot them. They made easy work of back door and after that, our beloved restaurant was in their hands. We lost a multitude of wine and spirits, the computers and tills were destroyed, and the majority of the contents of our refrigerators were lost to our Christmas Eve thieves. During the subsequent investigation, we learned the true reason why no alarm sounded: the fittings for the alarm system were never installed on the back doors. It couldn’t have been any easier to break in, when you think about it. Through CCTV footage, we managed to piece together what happened on those fateful nights and thankfully justice was served: the three of the pillagers were brought to court and pled guilty to the charges against them.
All’s well that ends well, right? Okay, we give you permission to laugh. Like we said, it sounds more like the perfect prank than a story from our past. But after an incredibly successful Christmas season for us, a two-day robbing extravaganza, complete with Christmas dinner for the thieves and a couple of new friends is not something we saw coming. So what can we take away from this frightful (albeit amusing) experience? For starters, it’s made us a lot more vigilant, even now, years later. Maybe we were naive, but until this actually happened and we watched it played back on our security cameras, we, like every other restaurant that has been robbed in Dublin, thought It’ll never happen to us. Now, we’re a bit wiser. Needless to say, in the weeks following, strong iron shutters were installed, and a new security system was fitted. We implemented countless safety policies that we still practice with care on a nightly basis. After nearly 10 years, we still haven’t forgotten about our Christmas Eve robbers.
Not written by Sixty6.