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AC unit theft makes matters worse for struggling restaurant

8:06 PM, Dec 9, 2012   |    comments
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AC unit stolen at Martinez Restaurant and Bakery located at the Johnson's Family Flea Market

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --A small business on the verge of calling it quits during tough economic times becomes a victim of theft and now the owner is facing yet another struggle to keep her restaurant in operation.

For two years Maria Martinez has kept her Spanish restaurant in operation five days a week at the Johnson's Family Flea Market. Even during tough economic times, Martinez has managed to keep her doors open, offering Spanish-American cuisine, but her clientele continues to decrease.

"Not a lot of people are coming in at this time because everybody is shopping in the malls, and things have been, business has been very difficult, and we've been thinking maybe we should hang the towel," says Maria Martinez, Owner of Martinez Restaurant and Bakery at the Johnson's Family Flea Market in Westside.

And now the restaurant is hit with a burglary. On Saturday morning, Maria came to work, as she always does through the back of the business and noticed her AC unit was gone.

"I said 'oh my God now what's going to happen?' you know we have been going through so much in here and now this," says Martinez.

The theft caused over a thousand dollars in damage and to make matters worse, the unit is what the restaurant uses to cool the freezers.

"Fans are not working," says Martinez, as she pointed to the fans in her freezer.

Police believe the burglary may have occurred in the early morning hours because all of the food was still frozen. Luckily, no goods were spoiled, but Martinez is forced to find alternate ways to keep the food safe for consumption.

"We cannot stock anything anymore; we have to buy whatever we are going to use and nothing extra," says Martinez.

The owner says now she has to buy a larger chest freezer to store the food while the building owner works to replace the old unit - another strain on the budget, but she's also looking at the bright side - she wants to use this experience to warn neighboring businesses.

"If you have a system that is like ours that is outside or that is on top of your building, just go and check it out, make sure that it is safe and it's not easy for someone just to come and take it," says Martinez.

First Coast News

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