On Saturday, Raquel Ramirez celebrated the opening of her colorful new Roxie's in Riverside with a ribbon cutting and patio party.
On Sunday, riding on a high, she closed down her restaurant, which operates out of a tiny hut at the corner of 11th and Bitting, and headed to the store with her husband to stock up on supplies for the next week. They locked it all up in the walk-in freezer in the back of the shop.
But when she returned to her shop to reopen on Tuesday, Ramirez found that everything was gone: pounds and pounds of just-purchased meat, cases of pop, tubs of ice cream and, worst of all, dozens of tamales and gallons of chili she had spent the previous week making.
Now, Ramirez says that she won't let the burglar stop her. She's determined to make her restaurant work in Riverside, a neighborhood she once lived in and still loves.
"I was really surprised it happened to me," Ramirez said on Thursday. "It's very bad timing."
Ramirez operated The Lunchbox inside of the High Touch building at 110 S. Main, where she became known for her homemade cinnamon rolls, but she recently closed it to focus on opening a new restaurant in the former Chiquita's Corner space in Riverside.
Roxie's in Riverside is a snack shop with seating only on the patio that serves ice cream and hot dogs and grilled items on the weekends. Ramirez launched it the week of June 18 and had her grand opening on Saturday.
She hadn't been open long enough to afford such a big loss, she said, estimating that the burglar —who popped open her gate and used a crowbar to get in the freezer — made off with $1,000 worth of stuff.
Now, she's looking into security cameras and new locks to protect the property.
"It hurts my feelings more than anything," she said. "I just hope that they needed it."
Ramirez isn't the only restaurant owner to have trouble with food thieves.
Dempsey's Biscuit Co. at 3425 E. Douglas has had its back freezer broken into four separate times, and the thieves have made off with thousands of dollars worth of beef, fish and chicken.
Ramirez said the neighborhood has been supportive, and a generous donor helped her replace some of what was lost.
"It's not going to stop me," she said. "I'll do whatever I can. I have to. I'm not going to lose everything because of some idiot."