Restaurant Sala on Lake Marina Avenue in New Orleans had to scramble to re-open this weekend.
Someone broke into the popular Lakefront eatery through a side window after closing time and burglarized the business around 3 a.m. Saturday.
Sala co-owner Joe Riccobono says the vandals stole money out of the cash drawers, ransacked his office, broke a video poker machine and did extensive damage to much of their equipment.
"Behind the scenes things weren't quite running the same," Riccobono said. "There was a lot of manual processes and work arounds, but we just pulled together with a lot of help."
Riccobono found computers, all of the point of sale electronics and much of the restaurant's surveillance system submerged in water in a kitchen sink.
"We assume that they were trying to get rid of any surveillance footage because we do have cameras throughout the building," Riccobono said. "They did damage that equipment as well. But, there was many pieces of equipment that were totally unrelated to the surveillance system that were destroyed along the way."
Regular customers like Kim Casey are shocked and saddened by the break-in at their "go to" spot across from the yacht harbor.
"It's scary," Casey said. "I was here late that night, I dropped off a friend, to his vehicle, in the parking lot and I didn't see anything then. It apparently happened afterward."
While New Orleans police search for the burglars, Riccobono says based on all the damage he saw the very next morning, he thinks this might not have been a random act.
"Is this burglary based or is this you know vandalism, sabotage-based," Riccobono said. "As far as, knowing if it was in fact a former employee or not, at this point it's not really known yet, but it is being investigated."
Nobody was in the restaurant at the time of the break-in. Vandals did about $10,000 worth of damage.
Computer experts are now working to retrieve images off of the damaged surveillance system. Police are also looking at video from neighboring homes and businesses.
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