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Lakewood restaurant forced to close after break-in

Honey spread on top of fire extinguisher retardant left after perpetrator or perpetrators broke into Schuyler’s Country Kitchen in Lakewood. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

LAKEWOOD — When Schuyler’s Country Kitchen owner Debra Schuyler walked into work at 4:15 a.m. Wednesday, she thought it was going to be just like any other workday.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case as Schulyer discovered her restaurant, located at 4477 W. Fairmount Ave., Lakewood, had been vandalized. The perpetrator or perpetrators used a fire extinguisher that left retardant throughout the restaurant, which will now need to be professionally cleaned. Also, the vandals spread honey on the counter and tables and threw silverware throughout the restaurant.

“They took a big honey jar and smeared honey all over the restaurant and then discharged the fire extinguisher. The entire restaurant is full of fire extinguisher retardant,” she said. “The whole inside of the building is covered. The kitchen and dining room is uninhabitable at this point.”

Schuyler said she hired ServiceMaster to professionally clean the restaurant. She believes it will take at least two weeks to clean the business thoroughly.

“Every nook and cranny needs cleaned. It’s pretty devastating,” she said. “It’s not as easy as just wiping it off. It’s a mess, a pretty bad mess.”

Debra Schuyler, co-owner of Schuyler’s Country Kitchen, assessing the damage done to her counter following a break-in. The perpetrator or perpetrators used a fire extinguisher, which left retardant on top of the counter. Photo by Dennis Phillips

Schuyler, who owns the restaurant with her husband Ernie, said she believes the culprits entered the restaurant where the air conditioning unit was in the kitchen. She said the Lakewood-Busti Police Department is investigating the crime. She added that the police were able to recover a fingerprint and footprint from the crime scene.

“They’re going to do some more investigating and we will see what happens,” she said. “It’s definitely not something someone would do if they came into steal something, which I would prefer cause I could open my restaurant.”

Lakewood-Busti Police Chief Christopher DePonceau confirmed that the department is investigating the break-in and vandalism. He noted no other recent incidents in that area.

Schuyler said it was bad enough making it through the COVID-19 pandemic, with the restaurant being closed for seven months.

“Now for a couple of weeks during the best part of the year I have to be shut down, again,” she said. “It’s not a good time for this to happen, that is for sure.”

The restaurant has 12 employees, which is a major concern for Schuyler. She is working with her accountant to find out the best options for her employees. She added that she doesn’t know if she will pay them while the restaurant is closed or if they will go on unemployment for a couple of weeks and she will make up the difference in pay.

“They have families and bills to pay and now we got two weeks they won’t be working,” she said. “I’m going to make sure they are taken care of (while the business is closed). I’m going to do everything in my power so they have what they need.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Lakewood-Busti Police Department at 763-9563.

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