Bourbon heist

Dallas restaurant not yet open suffers surprise bourbon theft

Dallas restaurant not yet open suffers surprise bourbon theft

Pappy Van Winkle
Rare bourbons can cost hundreds of dollars. Photo by Alex Fletcher

The new Greenville Avenue restaurant Feed Company hasn't even opened yet, but it has already been burglarized by someone who knew its bourbon.

The restaurant, which is going into the former Nandina space at 5631 Alta Ave., will focus on good food with an exceptional list of bourbons. But that list of bourbons is already smaller than it was a week ago.

Owners Sameer Patel, Patrick Bruce, and Anthony Rivera were readying for business when their spiffy new eatery was broken into early on the morning of June 6.

"We were going to do a soft opening this week, but we came to the restaurant on Tuesday morning and discovered we'd had a break-in — someone stole a good portion of our bourbon collection," Patel says.

According to the police report, the thieves cut the electrical boxes on the building's exterior before they broke in. They broke through a glass door to gain entry, and stole an ipad, wine — and high-priced bourbon.

"We had 138 bourbons that we'd painstaking detailed, with some of those bourbons reserved well in advance," Patel says. "Patrick, who chose the bourbon, said they took very specific bourbons from our collection. Several were high-dollar and rare that we were able to get because of our large initial purchase."

Burglars used two bar trash cans to carry out the bourbon. The glass was a custom installation that will take weeks to replace. Meanwhile, the owners have been calling spirits distributors to see what they can replace. With some of these ultrarare bourbons, there is actually a limited number of bottles available.

According to website Breaking Bourbon, bourbon has experienced a massive growth in demand, with new distillery startups, rising prices, and a rapidly increasing number of new product labels, "flooding the mainstream in cocktails, food, art, marketing, and pop culture."

Local liquor distributors, who prefer not to be named, say that, while this kind of theft is not common, it's not unprecedented. In 2015, a bourbon theft ring was uncovered that involved cult bourbon maker Pappy Van Winkle, among others, although the perpetrators turned out to be former distillery employers.

"With some bourbons going for $400-$500 a bottle, that's something you can re-sell for thousands," says one sales rep. "You'd have to find a customer willing to buy it without knowing where it's from. You could also sell it online. Technically, you're not supposed to, but it's being done."

Feed Company isn't even open yet or well-known, so the list of suspects seems small. Patel says that they considered postponing their opening, but decided to push forward. "We decided not to let this stop us," he says.