Thanks to a half-baked robbery plan and the power of Instagram, The Rose has been reunited with a $20,000 custom pizza oven that was stolen from the restaurant at 4 a.m. on Sunday.
The hero of the day was local resident Jordyn Komack who found the oven abandoned on her street after it had fallen off the pizza poachers’ truck and crashed into her car.
Security camera footage at The Rose captured three masked individuals loading the oven into a grey pickup truck, according to Chef and Partner Jason Neroni. The chains that tied the oven in place were found smashed on Sunday morning.
Shoddy knot tying and a large speed bump by Penmar Ave and Superba Ave proved to be the thieves’ downfall and they abandoned the oven about 1.5 miles from the scene of the crime.
Komack got in touch with The Rose around 3 p.m. on Monday when she saw their Instagram post seeking information on the oven’s whereabouts. She had spoken with the police who were on scene Sunday morning and was able to tell the owners where the oven had been towed.
“I thought it was the weirdest thing that has ever happened, but people were like ‘you must not have lived in Venice that long because weird things happen all the time’,” said Komack. “I’m curious to see what comes of the situation, but I’m really glad that The Rose found their pizza oven.”
Although her car suffered minor damage, Komack said she was pleased by the outcome of the incident as she is a frequent patron of The Rose and looks forward to dining on the house when it reopens this Friday.
Neroni is relieved to be reunited with the oven as the restaurant has been through a “rollercoaster ride” of obstacles in the past year and is extremely busy preparing to bring 120 staff members back for the return of outdoor dining.
“It’s a really awesome pizza oven. They are handmade in Italy by a company called Forza Forni and assembled in upstate New York,” said Neroni. “They custom build them per person, so it was very brazen for someone to take it.”
The Rose is no stranger to crime. The same night that the oven was stolen different individuals pilfered three heat lamps and several propane tanks, according to Neroni.
These items have yet to be recovered and it is currently near impossible to procure heat lamps as the regional stock has been snapped up by the many restaurants running outdoor dining.
The Rose is located next to Venice’s largest homeless encampment on Rose Avenue and suffers from incidents so frequently that the owners pay $100,000 annually for private security.
“That encampment has stolen many things from us in the past,” said Neroni. “About a year ago there was an individual that broke one woman’s nose and assaulted another woman. They’ve come to the restaurant and tried to steal things and hit people with wine bottles. They throw books over the fence or they throw knives over the fence, it really depends.”
Neroni said he hasn’t reached out to Councilman Mike Bonin for support as he “knows his stance on homelessness”.
While LAPD officers try their best to help, Neroni said they are overstretched in Venice and can take 20 to 30 minutes to respond to incidents whereas the private security officers arrive on scene in under ten.
The private security system is a big expense for a restaurant that has suffered from multiple rounds of closures and the costs of expanding outdoor dining and purchasing PPE.
The latest shutdown was particularly frustrating for Neroni, given the strict safety protocols the restaurant put in place and the lack of evidence that it was contributing to the spread of Covid-19.
“When they closed us in November we were serving 6,000 people a week and we had 125 to 130 employees. Not one employee had tested positive and we had no cases traced back to the restaurant,” said Neroni. “We tried to make to-go work and we lost 95 percent of our sales.”
Neroni takes Covid very seriously and has an immunocompromised son with severe asthma. The management team employs extensive measures to protect everyone at the Rose, including paying for a private lab to regularly test employees on site.
Despite the multitude of challenges faced by the restaurant, The Rose team is thrilled to announce that they will be reopening this week and there will be pizza.
‘I’m really excited to be opening on Friday,” said Neroni. “We have a good amount of reservations and the community response has been great for us to return.”