Owner moved to tears; the police call it ‘a puzzle’
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — A Sunriver restaurant is missing half of its outdoor furniture, after a fake online ad announced it was closing and asked people to come in and grab what they want.
Laura Bliss is the owner of the now half-empty South Bend Bistro.
“I put my whole life into it,” Bliss said Thursday, trying to hold back tears. “Sorry, I’m a little emotional over there.”
Bliss bought the South Bend Bistro in 2017 and has been working there every day since.
“I’m the one behind this whole restaurant, and that’s my baby, so it’s been really tough,” Bliss said. “With everything we’ve been through as a restaurant over the past few years, to wake up to — it’s very frustrating.
Security footage from the restaurant Thursday morning shows people taking tables, chairs, umbrellas, plants, heaters and propane tanks.
“This is normally full of tables and umbrellas,” Bliss said, pointing to a half-full patio. “They knocked over our planters and took our plants.”
Why did this happen? Police said because of a bogus Craigslist ad that claimed the South Bend Bistro was closing and all furniture was to leave as soon as possible and could be taken for free.
For Lt. Michael Womer of the Sunriver Police Department, this was new.
“This one is a puzzle,” Womer said. “I’ve been in law enforcement for 25 years, and I haven’t really seen this one before.”
Sunriver police are seeking a subpoena for the announcement and are investigating whether it was a form of political retaliation.
“There appears to be initial information that there may be a dispute with the previous owners, but it’s too early to say at this stage if it’s legitimate,” Womer said.
Bliss said she believed it had something to do with the previous owner and was sure she had done nothing publicly to anger anyone.
“I don’t belong to any organization. I’m just raising a family and running a business, that’s all I’m here to do,” Bliss said.
On this weekend with the official start of summer, half of the restaurant’s tables and chairs are now missing for its terrace, one of its most popular places.
“The buzz is good, the vibe is good,” Bliss said of the season so far. “And then waking up this morning to that was horrible.”
Some people have already started returning items, facing no legal penalties.
Depending on the amount returned, it could cost Bliss nearly $4,000 to replace everything.
NewsChannel 21 asked if Bliss could afford to replace everything.
“No,” Bliss said. “And it hits really hard.”
Sunriver police said if you take any items, please return them. You will not suffer any legal penalties due to false advertising.
However, if you learn that the advertisement is false, there could be legal repercussions.