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Boston Bartenders on the Things People Steal

From metal straws and vintage glassware to artwork and soap dispensers, a lot of things have a tendency to disappear. For Cocktail Week, area bartenders enumerate their losses.

We posed the question with a focus on glassware, but it turns out that a lot of other things find their way out of bars.

Greg Neises"I remember a night where this guy got up from the bar, went to the bathroom, and walked out carrying a statue of a giraffe (not glass, but to each his own I suppose) that belonged to the restaurant. Pretty random!" —Greg Neises, bartender at Tico


Paulo Pereira"I've seen quite a few items taken over the years. Everything from mule mugs and glassware to posters off a wall. Have to say one of the strangest things I've seen taken would have to be an empty bottle of Tabasco. Still haven't been able to wrap my head around that one." —Paulo Pereira, beverage director at Brass Union

Dan Greenough"We are currently featuring a Moscow Mule served in expensive copper mugs. There have been a few isolated incidents of them 'disappearing,'but overall no real theft issues." —Dan Greenough, food & beverage manager of all Burtons Grill locations


Kevin Murphy"People steal things...everything. Cups, glasses, wine glasses, salt & pepper mills, cutlery, soap dispensers, flowers, you name it. If it isn’t bolted down, it may disappear." —Kevin Murphy, operations manager of Deuxave


Ryan Lotz"It definitely happens, but it's not usually anything major — stuff like metal straws, the occasional tiki mug. Once at The Hawthorne someone tried to steal the art from above the men's room urinals! They are these really cool super hero illustrations of them using the bathroom that the Sheffields found." —Ryan Lotz, bar manager at No. 9 Park

Kaitlena CashMaybe Mai Tai glasses make it easier for toddlers to stomach Pedialyte."Glassware theft is commonplace at Anthem. We have these lovely Mai Tai glasses that resemble the Easter Island statues and are about as annoying as they are desirable. We lose at least one a weekend. Surprisingly enough, it's generally middle-aged women with kids that end up snagging themselves a tiki mug. Maybe Mai Tai glasses make it easier for toddlers to stomach Pedialyte." —Kaitlena Cash, bartender at Anthem Kitchen + Bar

Sal Gesamondo"Of course! From logo’d beer glasses to our big fish bowls. I could talk all day, but one of my favorite stories wasn’t even from the typical group of college kids. There was a table of adults (probably ranging from early 50s to early 60s). They were very polite, had multiple courses, and nothing extreme as far as drinks go. They asked for to-go boxes to wrap up their food (nothing unusual), but when they were leaving one of the women dropped her to-go box, and it made a loud smash. She had roamed the dining room and filled her to-go with our prism shot glasses…there had to be at least 20 of them." —Sal Gesamondo, operations manager of Tavern in the Square

Giulio Favuzza"Throughout the years, I can't tell you the amount of theft that goes on in the restaurant industry. I've caught a few in my day, but I can't imagine the amount that I haven't caught. Guests love to collect things. I had a guest try to steal a wine glass from a previous restaurant I worked at because she loved the logo. I noticed that she wrapped the dirty glassware in a napkin and put it in her purse. I went over with two new, clean wine glasses wrapped up in a to-go bag and told her she didn't have to take the dirty one. She was embarrassed at first but left extremely appreciative. I would have to say over the years that the estimated value of stolen glassware is in the high hundreds to low thousands." —Giulio Favuzza, beverage manager of Red Heat Tavern

Molly Woodhouse"I worked in a bar located in St. Louis early on, and we could never keep the Delirium Tremens Noel glasses in house. They have elephants in Santa hats on them, and every year our entire collection would be gone." —Molly Woodhouse, general manager and beverage director of Vida Cantina in Portsmouth (and an alum of The Butcher Shop and Menton)

Jenna Pollock"I know those mule cups disappear because frankly we will open 12 new ones and somehow always go back to six oxidized ones. Haven’t caught anyone red-handed yet, though." —Jenna Pollock, bar director at Nebo


One lady, many years my senior and wearing a wedding ring, once stuck a bar spoon in her cleavage and dared me to take it back.

Augusto Lino"Not glassware but some of the gear is always disappearing. I was downstairs saying goodbye to guests departing the upstairs dining room (at UpStairs on the Square) when an absinthe spoon popped out from under a couple that was walking down towards me and the exit (couldn't tell if it came from him or her). It landed right in front of my feet. As they sped up their pace with a fair amount of shame and terror in their faces, I picked it up and said something like ‘How curious to find this here! How do you think it got here?’ They basically ran away. Also, one lady, many years my senior and wearing a wedding ring, once stuck a bar spoon in her cleavage and dared me to take it back. I produced a new spoon from storage and her check." —Augusto Lino, bartender at Hungry Mother

Brian Mantz"We had a problem with Tiki mugs constantly being taken, so we made them available to purchase. This pretty much solved the problem. I think people take stuff like that because it's usually the only option for acquiring them." —Brian Mantz, bar manager at Wink & Nod

Colin Kiley"I haven't had to deal with glassware theft in a long time. I know that's a huge concern in beer bars that use a ton of branded glassware. I will say that if the glassware is really cool (speaking as a former craft beer sales rep), your first biggest round of theft is going to be from the staff! Ha! There, I said it." —Colin Kiley, bartender at Puritan & Company

Libby Spencer"Pretty Things Meadowlark boots! I don't know how they get away with it, but those boots get stolen all the time. They are adorable, so I get it, but come on... We don't have Moscow Mule mugs anymore, and I've had people order one and then be extremely disappointed when it doesn't come in a mug. One of my favorite customers brings in his own — and I'm always psyched to serve him." —Libby Spencer, bar manager at Deep Ellum

Tom Tellier"Every year we pour Sam Adams 26.2 for the marathon runners with matching glassware. We try to save the glasses to give to those that run in it. The first year we did this Sam Adams used an actual 26.2 ounce mug that had a handle. A lady went to grab her wallet out of her purse, but instead pulled a handle out. She then asked for another one to replace the one she just broke. (She wasn't even here for the marathon!)" —Tom Tellier, beverage director for Restaurant dante and both locations of il Casale

Todd Lipman"Metal stirrer/straws certainly have a habit of disappearing quite readily. I am sure glassware, particularly if it has a logo of some sort, is an attractive item to pilfer. You have to anticipate some level of loss through breakage and/or theft. It’s an unfortunate reality. One evening, when we were featuring raw Nantucket Bay scallops served in their half-shell as a special, I was pouring wine at a table and saw a woman in her 70s taking the adorable little shells off of her plate and stuffing them in her purse one at a time. I was overwhelmingly amused but said nothing. I may have done the same thing — if I was seven years old…and at the beach. Clearly, there is no limit to what people are willing to claim as their own." —Todd Lipman, head sommelier at Bistro du Midi

Davide Crusoe"People will steal anything that isn’t nailed down, glassware included. I worked in Hawaii and would literally see people put their tiki glasses in their bags right in front of me with not even a blink, always made me laugh!!" —Davide Crusoe, general manager at Chopps in Burlington

Christine Kerow"Yes, every time you have a cool-looking glass (especially when they are from a trendy distributor), people will always take them." —Christine Gerow, director of restaurant & bar at the Westin Waltham-Boston's Seventy at Third Avenue


Sam Treadway"People steal anything they can get away with. Moscow Mule mugs are the worst, but julep cups, novelty Star Wars cups, our soap dispenser, our magnetic door front sign…" —Sam Treadway, bar manager at Backbar


Seth Freidus"So far we have had no glassware stolen, but our guests in Harvard Square are generally amazing people that I don’t see doing that...knock on wood." —Seth Freidus, beverage director at Alden & Harlow


A few weeks ago, this guy grabbed an orange and started eating it like an apple. He didn't even peel it. It was weird.

Gina Richard"People steal glassware constantly, especially the branded stuff. I've definitely watched people put them in their purses, up their sleeves, etc. People have been stealing citrus fruit out of the baskets on the bar top lately as well. A few weeks ago, this guy grabbed an orange and started eating it like an apple. He didn't even peel it. It was weird." —Gina Richard, head bartender at Island Creek Oyster Bar

Ezra Star"When Drink first opened, we had a large array of vintage glassware, including Moscow Mule mugs (all of which were stolen). My favorite incident was on a busy Saturday night. I watched a woman take a vintage tiki mug into the bathroom. When she left, I looked in to see if she left the mug behind and saw that she hadn't. I ran behind the bar and grabbed the matching glass, wrapped it up as a gift and walked up to the woman and offered it to her. She turned bright red. I told her in the future all she has to do is ask." —Ezra Star, general manager at Drink

Paul Manzelli"Someone stole a large ice tray once, but never glassware." —Paul Manzelli, bartender at Bergamot


Jared Sadoian"The only glassware thief at Craigie, it seems, is 'the floor,' who strikes often when you least expect it. One thing we do lose often are our coasters. They have old maps of Cambridge printed on them and are quite cool-looking. We buy a bunch of them at a time, and they just seem to disappear! Our red beverage napkins don't seem to be as popular..." —Jared Sadoian, head bartender and beverage director of Craigie on Main and The Kirkland Tap & Trotter

Jonathan Mendez"Too many to list. Let’s just say that 99% of the time, I will gladly give you the branded glassware you covet; just ASK." —Jonathan Mendez, beverage director and bartender at TRADE


Jake Kress"We never know until the end of the night. People have become tricky and devious when they’re drunk." —Jake Kress, bar Manager at Grill 23 & Bar


Tenzin Samdo"Tiki mugs and special straws." —Tenzin Konchok Samdo, head barman at TRADE


Michael Florence"No glassware stories but people take a lot of stuff! At a restaurant in Telluride, Colorado, my bar had an unusable corner where for many years a very proud wood-carved rooster stood watch over all guests waiting. One very busy night, a woman dressed to the nines from the great state of...wearing a long fur coat decided she could stand no more and took her leave. Apparently she decided our rooster would be her consolation prize. None of us noticed until late that night it was gone. The next day a bartender told me the 'lady' had been bragging about her conquest to some of his guests." — Michael Florence, bar manager at Ole

Tyler Wolters"One day at Brick & Mortar, Kenny Belanger from Kirkland Tap & Trotter came and stole our favorite punch bowl that we called 'Ponies in the Surf' and started posting ransom notices on social media. So then we stole Tyler Wang's (currently of Audubon) blue blazer cups as payback. Then Shahir Masif of Highball Lounge started stealing everything from us. The guy was like a ninja. Nobody knew how he got behind the bar, but he stole almost all our fake trophies, which ended up behind the bar at Highball. Finally our owner, Gary Strack, had to go straighten it all out and get our trophies back. In the end it was all in good fun, like a band of brothers...I think?" —Tyler Wolters, bartender at Firebrand Saints and Brick & Mortar

A pony was involved.

"Guests generally don't take much. And if they show interest I'm more likely to just hand it over rather than let them feel guilty later, but there was a theft war at Kirkland while I was there. Our bar team at Kirkland Tap & Trotter and the team at Brick & Mortar pillaged each others bars for goodies. A pony was involved." —Tyler Wang, bartender at Audubon

"No, but we do get requests from guests to purchase our Estrella beer pint glasses. They're pretty special. Our problem has been art theft, though. Two prints have been stolen from the ladies bathroom (one of Richard Dawson!), and one from the vestibule." —Lara Egger, co-owner of Estragon Tapas Bar, and Sahil Mehta, bartender and server

"Glassware theft is something every bar faces at one time or another. I would suspect if you looked in any kitchen set of any person between the ages of 21-35, you will find at least one piece or another from a bar." —Tom Dargon, assistant general manager of BOKX 109

"Not really here in Boston, though a barrel for our barrel-aged cocktail program went ‘missing’ last Friday night. Luckily, it was empty. At a different establishment where I once worked, tiki mugs and spoon straws went missing all the time. I was ordering the glassware more than the product. And yes, at another place, 24 copper mule mugs were gone within a week." —Ashish Mitra, bar manager at Russell House Tavern

"I will never forget seeing a guest walk off with a large Marilyn Monroe print from the men's room under his arm. We chased after him down the street and got it back eventually." —Erica Petersiel, general manager at No. 8 Kitchen & Spirits

"Anything that isn’t nailed to the ground! Humans will steal anything they are not supposed to take. I have had many mule cups stolen in my career. Total has to be several hundred dollars. I caught a woman with a cup in her purse. Called her out on it. She denied. Her husband yelled at me for the accusation. In the end I got it from her. They looked like fools, and I told them to never return." —Ryan McGrale, beverage director at Tavern Road

"We have a number of unique and rare antique glassware that we use to serve sherry, amaro, and sipping rums. There was a group of six celebrating something, and at the end of their stay they ordered a round of Pedro Ximenez sherry. When we served it, one of the people on the party commented on how nice the glasses were, and sure enough there were only five on the table after they left! Value? Priceless! Will never be able to replace that glass." —Taso Papatsoris, bartender at Casa B

"I have never experienced glassware theft from any of the bars I have worked at. I did, however — a very long time ago at a co-worker’s house party — notice there was a whole kitchen full of wine glasses, martini glasses, and plates with what was a very familiar fish image that resembled the logo of a very familiar seafood restaurant chain." —Rob Dunn, bar manager at Lineage

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